05/18/2008 11:00PM

Vicarino restores trainer's confidence


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Greg Gilchrist, who believes it's important to enjoy the highs of racing because there are so many lows, is riding a hot streak that began on Mother's Day when Wild Promises scored her first stakes victory.

What has Gilchrist happiest, though, is Vicarino's 3 1/2-length victory over Tribesman in an allowance race last Friday at Golden Gate Fields. In his two previous starts, Vicarino finished third after dueling with Tribesman in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Sprint on March 15 and was fifth in the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park on April 10.

"I've always believed in [Vicarino], but his last two, maybe even skipping back to when he ran against Tribesman the first time, left some questions," Gilchrist said, referring to the initial meeting of the rival sprinters on Jan. 13, when Vicarino finished third coming off a year layoff.

"Both beat themselves in the Bay Meadows race, and I'm not proud of the way he ran at Oaklawn," Gilchrist said. "He didn't run his race and seemed to be giving up. I was starting to have a little doubt."

Gilchrist lightened up a bit on Vicarino's training and was happy with the way the 4-year-old colt sat close enough to apply pressure to Tribesman last Friday, through a half-mile in 44.31 seconds, before pulling clear in the lane.

"Tribesman kept getting three- and four-length leads, and you couldn't catch him late because he was a fresh horse," said Gilchrist, who asked Vicarino's jockey, Russell Baze, to use the colt's speed to put more pressure on Tribesman early.

"His effort cleared up a bit in my mind," Gilchrist said. "He still has it. To run those fractions and finish the way he did to win the race was impressive."

Gilchrist said Vicarino will point to the $75,000 Oakland Handicap, a six-furlong sprint here June 14.

Gilchrist said he was not disappointed by Summer Haze's third-place finish in Saturday's Golden Bear. Summer Haze had the early lead, then was passed by a rank Devils Afleet, who seemed to bother him a bit. Summer Haze dropped out of the race at the quarter pole only to re-rally for third in the race, won by Nevada Worrier.

"It was a funny-run race, and he probably did get a little intimidated," said Gilchrist.

Smokey Stover retired at age 5

Gilchrist said the 5-year-old gelding Smokey Stover, one of the country's top sprinters last year after victories in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap, and Grade 2 Portrero Grande, will not return to the races.

He has not run since a disappointing effort in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, contested in the slop at Monmouth Park.

Smokey Stover won 8 of 14 starts with 4 seconds and a third, earning $568,725.

Gilchrist said Smokey Stover had multiple minor problems, although not one major one.

"We're going to do something for him and let him stay at the farm," Gilchrist said. "We don't want to cheapen him up, and, if he came back, he might have to run for a $50,000 claiming tag."

Indyanne works sharply

Indyanne, the undefeated 3-year-old filly who may be the queen of Gilchrist's barn, continues to impress after returning from minor ankle surgery.

She had a best-of-37 five-furlong bullet work of 59.80 on Saturday. Gilchrist said she needed three or four more works and would be ready the last week or two of the Golden Gate meet, which concludes June 22, although he conceded she will probably have to make her comeback against older opponents.

"I'm very excited," Gilchrist said. "She's doing everything so well. I'd like to work her every other day, but we'll take our time. I'd like to sprint her once or twice and then stretch her out."

Another stablemate, Sky Mystic, is recovering from a pastern problem. She won the $100,000 California Oaks in her last start on Feb. 2.

Three certain for Berkeley

Only millionaire McCann's Mojave, Our Partner, and Pass the Heat are confirmed starters for next Monday's Grade 3, $150,000 Berkeley Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, but stakes coordinator David Jerkens expects a decent field from the 15 nominees.

McCann's Mojave will be looking for his first victory since winning the Grade 3 All America over the Tapeta surface here last fall. Our Partner was second to Bold Chieftain in the April 26 Bay Meadows Handicap on the turf, while Pass the Heat steps up following a third-level allowance victory on April 20.

Nine 3-year-olds were nominated for Saturday's $75,000 Alcatraz at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

So far, the only confirmed starters are Ballet Way, who has won three straight claimers; Captain Roy, who won his debut at one mile on the turf on May 3; and Mr Keppel, sixth in the April 25 Harry Henson at six furlongs on the turf at Hollywood in his U.S. debut.