03/27/2006 12:00AM

Welcome back, Mike Smith

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Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
Bandini will use Saturday's Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream as a stepping-stone to the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 29.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith returned to New York on Monday morning rejuvenated, refreshed, and hoping to relive some of the glory he enjoyed during the 12 previous years he spent riding here.

Smith officially rejoins the New York jockey colony on Wednesday when Aqueduct's main track meet kicks off a 23-day run. Smith, 40, is named on two horses Wednesday and four more on Thursday.

"More opportunity to ride more horses,'' Smith said Monday when asked why he has decided to ride in New York again. "I feel like I got a good 10 years left in me and I want to get back to where I was.''

In the early 1990's, Smith was at the top of the heap in New York, where he was leading rider for three consecutive years (1991-93). Smith remained a top-five rider until 1998 when he suffered two serious injuries. Smith suffered a broken back in August that year. He returned to race riding by early 1999, which Smith has said was too soon. By the spring of 2000, Smith had relocated to Southern California.

Smith enjoyed moderate success in California, and reached racing's pinnacle when he rode longshot Giacomo to victory in last year's Kentucky Derby. But Smith said he believes he killed his own momentum by not committing to ride in one place. He spent the spring in Kentucky then returned to Del Mar, before eventually coming to the East last fall.

"After we won the Derby instead of staying back East, people didn't know if I was coming or going,'' said Smith, who won just 81 races in 2005. "The golden rule of racing is you can't be jumping all over the place.''

Smith committed to an East Coast circuit by electing to ride at Gulfstream. He had a disappointing record with just 6 wins from 149 mounts. Smith said he has spent the last several weeks focusing on getting fit for New York.

"To be honest with you I've been training hard and running,'' said Smith, who will be represented by agent Mike Sellitto. "The other day I ran 18 miles. I'm staying extra fit, getting my weight really down and my mind straight. I'm fitter than I've ever been in my life.''

Klanfer named Paraneck trainer

Alan Klanfer has been elevated from assistant to head trainer of Paraneck Stable, Ernie Paragallo, the authorized agent for Paraneck, said Monday. Klanfer will saddle two of Paraneck's horses on Thursday's card.

Klanfer, who trained briefly in Southern California in the early 1990's but who has recently been working as a Paraneck assistant, takes over for Frank Amonte Jr., who surrendered his license to the Aqueduct stewards on Saturday after failing a drug test last week. Though Amonte said he thought he was suspended for 15 days, state racing officials said no suspension was issued and that his license has been revoked indefinitely.

"He is not currently licensed,'' said Dan Toomey, spokesman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Toomey declined further comment on Amonte's case.

According to the board's rules on drug use, Amonte may have to complete a drug treatment or drug education program before he could regain his license.

Amonte claims he tested positive for Vicodin, a painkiller for which he did not have a prescription. It was unclear whether he tested positive for additional controlled substances.

Amonte, 47, took over as head trainer when Jennifer Pedersen and Paraneck split on March 9.

Paragallo said Klanfer is scheduled to take 27 Paraneck horses to Finger Lakes on April 10. Paragallo said he wasn't sure who would become trainer of his Aqueduct-based horses at that time.

Vagrancy next for Smokey Glacken

The major target for Smokey Glacken this summer is the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder Race Course on July 15. She will have one more start before then, which is likely to come in the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park on June 11.

Thus, Smokey Glacken will get a well-deserved 10-week freshening following her hard-fought neck victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct. The Distaff was Smokey Glacken's third consecutive graded stakes win of the year. She overcame a slow start to get the job done in her first career start over the inner track.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Smokey Glacken came out of the Distaff in good shape. He said that the filly wasn't standing right in the gate, which is what caused her to break poorly.

Bandini's goal is Met Mile

Trainer Todd Pletcher has made a change of plans regarding Bandini. Instead of running in the Oaklawn Park Handicap on April 8, Bandini will run Saturday in the $100,000 Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Thereafter, he is targeting the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 29.

Bandini won the Grade 1 Blue Grass last year. He got hurt while finishing 19th in the Kentucky Derby. He made a successful return to the races, winning an allowance race at Gulfstream on March 1. That made him 3 for 4 at Gulfstream.

"His record's very good at Gulfstream, so I felt like rather than ship into Oaklawn, this was a better play,'' Pletcher said.

Pletcher added that Harlington, winner of the Gulfstream Park Handicap, would train up to the Grade 1, $500,000 Pimlico Special on May 19.

Pletcher also said that Flower Alley, last year's Travers winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up, would likely rejoin his stable at Keeneland next week. While Flower Alley has had a few breezes at owner Eugene Melnyk's farm in Ocala, Fla., Pletcher would not speculate when Flower Alley would return to the races.

No rest for Magna Graduate

Pletcher said he doesn't plan to give Magna Graduate, who finished fourth in the Dubai World Cup on Saturday, a long rest.

"Seeing the way he traveled, the way he looked before I left, we'll have him back under tack by the end of the week,'' Pletcher said. "We'll keep him moving and decide on a race after that.''