05/09/2002 11:00PM

Ashbecca may need longer race


AUBURN, Wash. - Ashbecca, the champion juvenile filly at last year's meet, returns to Emerald Downs on Sunday when she takes on six rivals in the $45,000 Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Ashbecca's most noteworthy accomplishments last season were a come-from-behind victory in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes and a good fourth against male competition in the rich Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles. She will not be favored in Sunday's sprint, but trainer Steve Bullock feels it is in the filly's best interest to run.

"She really wants to route, but this race will get her into the program and set her up nicely for the next stakes at a mile," he said. "She might surprise us, too. She is fit from racing in California, and

6 1/2 furlongs will give her a chance to get up in time if the pace is fast."

Ashbecca, a daughter of Sandpit who races for Dr. Rodney Orr, is coming off a two-race campaign at Santa Anita under the care of trainer Jay Robbins. She finished a closing seventh of 11 in the $100,000 La Habra Stakes at

6 1/2 furlongs and was last of seven in the $75,000 Providencia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, both grass races.

Lasting Code and Strong Credentials, the one-two finishers in the recent U. S. Bank Stakes at six furlongs, will likely vie for the favorite's role.

- Portland Meadows will open for summer training on Monday after receiving final approvals for its new waste water disposal system on Thursday. Horsemen will be greeted by many backstretch improvements, including a newly reconfigured and resurfaced training track. Straw bedding will be permitted.