11/13/2003 12:00AM

Two of top young guns in Display


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Smoocher and A Bit O'Gold, possibly the top two juveniles at Woodbine, will clash in Saturday's $135,625 Display Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race, which will help determine the Sovereign Award for Canadian champion 2-year-old.

Smoocher has won 2 of his 3 starts, all under trainer David Bell. A Florida-bred, Smoocher graduated his second time out, in a quick maiden special weight race, and then captured the Grade 2 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes with an inside rally over the best part of the track Oct. 5.

Bell said that jockey Jim McAleney had Smoocher farther off the pace than he had anticipated in the 1 1/16-mile Grey, in order to avoid getting hung out wide on the clubhouse turn.

"We didn't plan on being that far off the pace," Bell said, "but he was going to be six-wide if [McAleney] didn't take him back and drop him in. The fence stayed open, and it was a good trip and a good ride."

Bell said Smoocher had shown promise from the time he began to train. "He's always acted like a nice horse," Bell said. "He's a big, strong horse, with a long stride. He's a nice kind of colt who handles himself well."

Bell said he is looking at the Display as a possible stepping-stone to either the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 29 at Churchill, or the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes on Dec. 5 at Delta Downs.

"He's still a little green," Bell said. "He jumped the gate marks down the lane in the Grey, and I think this is nice spot to give him a little more experience before we go south with him."

A Bit O'Gold, a handsome Canadian-bred gelding, is unbeaten in three starts, all under jockey Jono Jones. He's coming off an impressive score going 1 1/8 miles in the $250,000 Coronation Futurity, in which he made a bold wide bid for the lead heading into the far turn and cruised to a 1 1/2-length victory.

Trainer Catherine Day Phillips noted that A Bit O'Gold has displayed a versatile running style.

"He's a very intelligent horse," said Day-Phillips, "and he's very responsive to what Jono wants him to do. It makes him easier to ride when you have options. You can go to the front, or you take him back behind horses."

Also entered in the Display are Begborrowanddeal, Third Sacker, Judiths Wild Rush, and Stone Rain.