11/04/2004 12:00AM

'Amelia' gets fresh start


PORTLAND, Ore. - If Amelia True Heart is favored in Saturday's $19,280 Janet Wineberg Stakes for Oregon-bred 2-year-old fillies at Portland Meadows, it will on the basis of her sensational debut at Emerald Downs on July 25.

In that 5 1/2-furlong race for $16,000 maiden claimers, Amelia True Heart sat just off the early pace, took command on the turn, and drew out to score by nearly 10 lengths in a quick 1:04.40.

Amelia True Heart was less impressive in two subsequent efforts at Emerald. She finished fourth, then was moved up to third via disqualification, in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance won by A Classic Life on Aug. 14, then ran a distant eighth and last in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes on Aug. 28, which was also won by A Classic Life.

"I ran her three times in five weeks, and I think that was a mistake," said Carol Duby, Amelia True Heart's owner, trainer, and breeder. "I thought she ran pretty well in her second start because she was actually interfered with twice in that race, but in her third start she just wouldn't settle. I think she just got too wound up from the frequent racing and she couldn't relax."

Duby decided to stop on Amelia True Heart after the Shinpoch and start over with her at this meeting. She has prepared the filly for the six-furlong Janet Wineberg with a series of gallops and slow workouts, including a five-furlong drill in company with an overmatched stablemate, Little Bit Rosy, last Saturday morning.

"I've been doing a little schooling with her," said Duby. "I'd like to see her relax and come from a little bit off the pace, the way she did in her first race. I think that would be better for her in the long run."

Trainer preferences aside, Duby understands that there is no way to know for sure what Amelia True Heart will do on Saturday.

"Sometimes the trainer has a good plan and the rider has a good plan, but the horse has her own ideas," she said.

Webb fillies from strong family

Amelia True Heart is bred to succeed over this track, as she is a half-sister to local stakes winners Annie N Will and Carlyn Road, but she is not alone in that regard. Owner and trainer Delmer Webb will send out two Janet Wineberg hopefuls from one of Oregon's premier families in Sassy Sushi and Cya Cahill, both of whom are by Cahill Road.

Sassy Sushi is out of Sushi Q., who is the dam of 10-time Portland Meadows stakes winner Cyamaria and Tom Won, who won last year's Oregon Futurity before succumbing to a mysterious infection. Cya Cahill is out of Cyamaria.

Sassy Sushi and Cya Cahill are both maidens, but Sassy Sushi ran fifth against maiden special weight company in her only start and Cya Cahill ran fourth and second to male maiden special weight runners in two starts, with her most recent outing coming just last Saturday.

"I have high hopes for both of them, but Sassy Sushi may take a while before she shows her best stuff," said Webb. "She is a full sister to Tom Won, and she is a lot like him. Tom Won was a very big 2-year-old, and he needed a few starts and a distance of ground before he came into himself. I think Sassy Sushi might be the same way.

"Cya Cahill isn't as good-looking as Sassy Sushi, but she is further along and she probably gives me my best chance on Saturday. She ran very well against the boys and she should appreciate going against fillies for a change."

Trainer Jim Fergason will also send out a well-bred runner in Mi Pet Rock, who won her debut here on opening day. Mi Pet Rock is a full-sister to Back Street Gal, who won her first five starts here, including four stakes.

"She really reminds me quite a lot of Back Street Gal," said Fergason. "Everybody in that family can run."

Crockett invests in Calgary project

Emerald Downs president Ron Crockett confirmed that he has joined forces with the United Horsemen of Alberta and Gateway Casinos in an attempt to build a new track near Calgary, Alberta. Crockett said he has served as a consultant for the project, which has been granted a license from Horse Racing Alberta that is valid from 2007 through 2017. He said he is also a minority investor in the project.

Crockett said that neither Emerald Downs nor its investors are involved in the project, but that plans call for Emerald to enter into a contract to manage the new track once it is built.

"It would be a way for us to utilize our people in the off-season, and it would help our operation in that respect," said Crockett.

Plans for the new track in Calgary call for a mile track for Thoroughbreds, a seven-furlong inner track for Standardbreds, and 500 slot machines.

Racing in Calgary is currently conducted at Stampede Park, which has a five-furlong track.