02/05/2006 1:00AM

Watchem Smokey best in Delta Mile

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Making his first start since July and in only his second attempt at two turns, Watchem Smokey stalked the early pace before taking control through the stretch to win Saturday night's $50,000 Delta Mile Stakes at Evangeline Downs. High Strike Zone, the winner of this race a year ago, had to settle for second in this year's edition as he finished two and a half lengths behind the winner and three parts of a length in front of favored Drill Hall, who suffered only his second defeat from eight local starts.

Settling comfortably under Kerwin Clark, Watchem Smokey ($18.40) stalked the early pace set by Mr. Barracuda before challenging three wide turning for home. The winner drove clear past the furlong marker and crossed the wire in a time of 1:38.35 for the mile, narrowly missing the track record of 1:38.32 set by Drill Hall last April.

Watchem Smokey was making his first start for trainer Brandon Marks and won for the first time since September of 2004. The 6-year-old altered son of Alphabet Soup has now earned over $293,000.