11/20/2003 1:00AM

Americas Pride's race record and Beyers give mixed signals

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Americas Pride will be an overwhelming favorite in Saturday's six-furlong Lassie Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and it's easy to see why.

Americas Pride, a daughter of promising young sire Baquero, has won 4 of 9 starts, including two stakes, and none of her rivals on Saturday has yet defeated winners. Americas Pride is coming off an eight-length romp in the six-furlong Janet Wineberg Stakes for Oregon-bred fillies in her Portland Meadows debut, and trainer Linda Northam said that she continues to thrive.

"She has had a long campaign, but she has stayed sound and she hasn't shown any signs of slowing down," Northam said. "I was especially pleased with her last race, because she wasn't bothered when she broke slowly. She just settled in and moved when the rider asked her. I think she is getting more mature and more versatile, and I'm looking forward to running her again on Saturday."

Despite her credentials, Americas Pride will not be an attractive odds-on favorite to those who take Beyer Speed Figures seriously. She peaked at 60 with her victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Knights Choice Stakes at Emerald, and she earned a modest 55 in her Janet Wineberg score.

At least four of Americas Pride's challengers have earned Beyers in the 50's, and they have done so with fewer opportunities than the favorite. One, Summaryze, actually topped Americas Pride's Wineberg Beyer with a 57 in her five-furlong maiden score here on opening day, Oct. 18.

"She kind of surprised me that day," said trainer Robbie Baze, who will also saddle Emerald Downs maiden winner Lace Knighty in the Lassie. "She always outworked Lace Knighty at Emerald, but Lace Knighty ran much better in the afternoons. I think Summaryze probably just needed her two races at Emerald, and she came to hand in her third start. She came back to work a bullet five furlongs, which is the first time she has ever done that, so it seems like she is improving.

"Lace Knighty is also a nice filly, but she hasn't run over the track. She seems to handle it fine in the mornings, but you never know for sure until they race."

Ms. Lady Palace, who may be Americas Pride's most formidable opponent, has proven her mettle over this surface. She defeated maiden special weight company in her five-furlong local bow on Oct 25, earning a 53 Beyer. Last summer at Emerald, she flashed talent with a fourth and a third in maiden special weight company in her first two starts, then ran fourth to $32,000 maidens on closing day, Sept. 22.

"We had her scoped after that race, and we discovered that she had an entrapped epiglottis," trainer Bob Weatherwax said. "She couldn't get her air. She had throat surgery at Emerald, and that seems to have solved the problem. She only missed about 10 days of training, and she hasn't made any noise since she came back."

Weatherwax suspects that Ms. Lady Palace might have had experienced breathing problems in all three of her starts at Emerald. He said that she broke through the gate and banged her nose before the start of her local outing, and he is curious to see how she will run with a trouble-free trip.

"We really don't know how good she might be if she breaks well and is able to breathe," he said. "This race should tell us a lot about her."

Sale catalogs available

Catalogs are now available for the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's annual winter mixed sale, which will be held in the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion at Emerald Downs on Dec. 7.

A total of 202 horses and eight stallion shares have been cataloged, including 117 yearlings, 45 broodmares, 21 weanlings, and 19 horses of racing age.

The yearlings include sons and daughters of such top Northwest sires as Slewdledo, Free at Last, and Cahill Road, as well as a smattering by prominent national sires such as Louis Quatorze, Victory Gallop, and Dixie Union.

A Dixie Union colt who will sell as Hip No. 56 is the first foal from the Forty Niner mare Head Count, a winner of four races and $135,680. His second dam, Topicount, was a multiple graded stakes winner of over $600,000.

Dixie Union, whose first crop of foals are yearlings, won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and the Grade 1 Malibu en route to earning $1,233,190 for owner and breeder Herman Sarkowsky. Dixie Union's dam, the Capote matron She's Tops, is a three-quarter sister to the promising Seattle Slew stallion He's Tops, who was also bred by Sarkowsky.

He's Tops is represented in the winter sale by one yearling colt and two yearling fillies.