05/21/2002 12:00AM

At 8, Crowning Meeting on record tear


AUBURN, Wash. - Age was served at Emerald Downs on Sunday, as a pair of rejuvenated 8-year-olds dueled through the stretch en route to a track-record clocking in the Fox Sports Net Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

At the wire it was Crowning Meeting by a neck over California invader Profound Secret in 1:13.80, a time that demolished the track record of 1:14.40 set by Edneator in 2000.

Crowning Meeting's performance came on the heels of his track-record-equaling win in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap, which he won in 1:07.80. The combined efforts confirmed that Crowning Meeting, a son of General Meeting and Fitted Crown - making him full brother to millionaire Excellent Meeting - is racing in the best form of his career.

As his trainer, Sharon Ross, noted, and his career earnings of nearly $500,000 testify, Crowning Meeting was always a good horse.

"We claimed him in 1999 for $50,000, and we took a chip out of his knee, then it took us a while to get a line on him and get him right," Ross said. Once "right," Ross recalled, Crowning Meeting went on to victories in the Longacres Mile Consolation two years ago and an allowance race in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 116.

Then, Ross said, "He went down to California and won a couple of stakes, including a hundred-grander. When he gets on a roll like that, he gets a look in his eye and he just won't let anybody beat him. He's like that now."

Ross's challenge is to keep Crowning Meeting at his peak until Aug. 25, when the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile will be run for the 67th time.

"The Mile has been his goal from the start," said the trainer. "Everything we do with this horse centers on running him in the Mile."

The next stop along the road to the Longacres Mile is the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Downs Handicap at a mile June 16. In that race, Crowning Meeting is likely to face a familiar foe: Profound Secret.

Trainer Kent Molinaro brought Profound Secret here for Sunday's race in part to see if his horse, who has earned $400,000, would handle the local track. He received an emphatic answer.

"There is no question he liked the track, so if he comes out of this race okay we'll probably come back for the race next month," said Molinaro. "He ran a really big race. The other horse just ran a little better."

Women rule card

Women riders won five of the 10 races here Sunday and women trainers won three, including the Fox Sports Net.

Trainer Eulia Bischoff and rider Kris Prather teamed with An Naabi to win the seventh race, while trainer Kim Newport and apprentice Jocelyn Kenny scored their second huge upset of the week, with Forbid in the sixth.

Newport, who just took out her trainer's license this summer after serving as George Davis's assistant at Portland Meadows, shipped Neardistracted up from Windy Ridge Training Center near Vancouver, Wash., on Friday, and won an $8,000 claiming sprint at 49-1, producing an Emerald Downs record win payoff of $101.60.

As if to prove the upset was no fluke, she repeated the feat on Sunday with Forbid, who paid $48.40 after winning a $4,000 claiming sprint. The two winners, who were just the second and third starters saddled by Newport, were both ridden by Kenny, who is 2 for 2 at the meeting after going 0 for 27 here last year.

"They were both big surprises to me," confessed the apprentice. "I went down to Windy Ridge on Wednesday to gallop Neardistracted and work Forbid, but they didn't give me any indication they would run like that. Kim did a great job of getting them ready."

Kenny, who won three races at Turf Paradise earlier this year, will remain undefeated at this meeting. She said she is leaving to ride at Yavapai Downs in Arizona.

Mula Gula going to Kentucky

Owner Steve Gula has announced that his young stallion, Mula Gula, a Grade 2 stakes winner of $684,070, will move from El Dorado Farms in Enumclaw to stand the next breeding season at Old Frankfort Stud near Lexington, Ky.

Mula Gula will join his sire, Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee, at Old Frankfort Stud, which is owned by Jim Plemmons, a former Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association board member.

Mula Gula's first foals were born this spring in Washington.

Holiday contest: Riders up for grabs

Emerald Downs will stage its popular Win-A-Jockey contest on Monday, Memorial Day. The lucky winner, who must be in attendance at the track, will win a percentage of the purse earnings of the jockey of his or her choice at the current meeting.

Last year, winner Charles Stubbs won more than $12,000 after selecting leading rider Ben Russell to represent him.