04/09/2004 11:00PM

Two Down Automatic gets his stakes win

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Two Down Automatic - who had placed in stakes won by Smarty Jones, Fire Slam, and Wildcat Shoes - won the first stakes of his career Saturday when he powered to a 5 3/4-length win over Proper Prado in the $75,000 Northern Spur Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park.

Level Playingfield was another length back in third, while Tiger Hunt finished fourth in his first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The Northern Spur was one of two one-mile stakes supporting the $1 million Arkansas Derby. The other, the $75,000 Instant Racing Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies, was won by Tee's Pearl ($5.60).

Two Down Automatic ($4.20) broke well in the Northern Spur and stalked Winning Witness through an opening half-mile in 46.72 seconds. Two Down Automatic overtook Winning Witness through six furlongs in 1:11.46, and went on to cover the mile over a sloppy track in 1:37.37.

"Our strategy centered on the break," said Tim Doocy, who rode Two Down Automatic for trainer Steve Asmussen. "If [Foxtrot Oscar] broke sharply I would have been content to be sitting third, but when he didn't break, I sat second and didn't feel any need to go up and challenge the leader. I was able to go around him without using any horse, and finished up strong."

Two Down Automatic, who in his last start was second to Smarty Jones in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 28, earned $45,000 for the win. Prior to that race, he was third to Fire Slam in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds and second to Wildcat Shoes in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl, also in New Orleans.

Overall, Two Down Automatic has won three of seven starts and $121,000. He is a son of Smoke Glacken and races for Dapple Stable.

In the Instant Racing, Tee's Pearl led throughout for a 3 1/4-length win over Pilfer. It was another neck back in third to Cedar Summer. The win was the second straight at Oaklawn for Tee's Pearl, who was a wire-to-wire allowance winner on Feb. 22. Pat Day rode Tee's Pearl for trainer Lynn Whiting. Day and Whiting teamed to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee, who is the sire of Tee's Pearl.