11/09/2007 12:00AM

T.V. Smith to bow out on closing day

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - After 46 years of training racehorses, T.V. Smith is ready to call it a career.

"Every year, I have less and less horses to train," said Smith, who has five horses at Churchill Downs. "It's time, and I think I can afford to do it."

Smith said closing day of the Churchill fall meet, Nov. 24, will be his last in a training career that dates to the early 1960s. Smith, who turns 70 on Nov. 19, plans to spend more time with his wife, Ann, and family in Louisville.

Smith was a household name when he operated a large and successful stable in Nebraska during the heyday of Ak-Sar-Ben in the 1970s and '80s. He moved to Kentucky in the early '90s, and although Oaklawn Park was his main winter base, he was stabled at Gulfstream Park in January 1999 when he won the Holy Bull Stakes with a 3-year-old named Grits'n Hard Toast. The horse's name originated from a Smith employee's wisecrack about a fellow stablehand who failed to show for work one morning: "He's probably in jail, eating grits and hard toast."

Smith's career hit a peak of sorts in 2003 when Offlee Wild, who defeated eventual Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide that winter at Gulfstream, finished 12th in the Derby. "It was a real exciting time," Smith said.

Smith, a South Dakota native, trained more than 40 stakes winners. Among his other top horses were Once'n My Life, Avie's Shadow, G.U. Dreamer, and more recently, Sheets, winner of the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup at Calder in July.

U D Ghetto, Noonmark stir interest

A couple of horses with glimpses of former glory should make for an interesting secondary feature on the Sunday card at Churchill. U D Ghetto, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Cup Juvenile, and Noonmark, stakes-placed against the likes of Sharp Humor and Songster last year, are among a field of nine entered in the eighth race, a $52,500 second-level allowance at six furlongs.

U D Ghetto, trained by Tony Reinstedler, had been laid up since mid-May but shows a steady work pattern at Churchill. Noonmark, trained by Steve Asmussen, has campaigned most recently in New York, where he has been second twice at this level and figures to be the favorite Sunday.

Don't mess with Texas

The Texas-based ownership team of Jerry Heflin and James Driver is off to a perfect start at the fall meet, having won with each of their first four starters. The leading owners the last two years at Lone Star Park, the partners have their horses at Churchill with trainer Cody Autrey, who most recently sent out Time for Etbauer to win the second race Wednesday.

Heflin lives in Rockwall, Texas, while Driver is from the Dallas suburb of Irving. Their other winners here so far were Miss O. Four, I've Been Humbled, and Scat Cat Jamey.

Gone Overboard wins feature

Gone Overboard, ridden by Julien Leparoux, wore down Princess Westly in the final furlong to capture the $50,000 feature here Thursday by three-quarters of a length. Trained by Ralph Nicks, Gone Overboard returned $6.80 as a slight favorite in the one-mile turf race.

Calvin Borel rode three winners Thursday to maintain a slim lead in the jockeys' race. Starting Wednesday, he will be riding under a stay of a suspension resulting from a riding infraction last week.

* Trainer Mike Johnson, a former longtime assistant and exercise rider for Pete Vestal, scored his first victory on the Kentucky circuit when Chin High ($23.40), ridden by Borel, rallied up the rail to win the seventh race Thursday. Johnson assumed the training of several horses after Vestal retired last winter to become the head clocker at Churchill. Johnson's only previous victory came at Louisiana Downs.

* Racing officials are looking at the following prospects for the annual fall-meet highlight, the Clark Handicap on Nov. 23: A.P. Arrow, Brass Hat, Buzzards Bay, Magna Graduate, and possibly Istan and Purim. Nominations for stakes on closing weekend (Nov. 22-24) were to close Saturday.