03/07/2003 12:00AM

Barmara, Wegota Slewzy in rematch


PORTLAND, Ore. - The list of nominations for Sunday's City of Roses Stakes, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, made many wish there was a bigger starting gate at Portland Meadows.

While there were no real standouts on the roster of 19, there were no obvious throwouts, either. Nevertheless, seven nominees were excluded on the basis of money earned during 2002-03.

Unfortunately, the exclusions included some of the more interesting win candidates. The lightly raced Dancing Dragon might well have been favored given the speed and class she demonstrated in 2001 and 2002 campaigns at Emerald Downs. Primadonna Poppy, who missed all of last year with an injury, proved her mettle with a pair of stakes placings and an allowance win here in 2001.

Also left on the sidelines was the unstarted 3-year-old Chul Chul, a regally bred daughter of Formal Gold whose nomination was intriguing because of the audacity of owner-trainer-breeder Eric Jensen's intention to unveil her against older stakes runners. Jensen knows a talented filly when he has one, having trained the brilliant Mishill and other good ones, so it could prove productive to watch for Chul Chul to run versus easier company.

Still, there is plenty of interest in the City of Roses, and it begins with a rematch between Barmara and Wegota Slewzy, who finished a neck apart in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance prep Feb. 22. Barmara earned the decision despite breaking in the air, and that gave the 6-year-old daughter of Warfield three straight wins and four wins from six starts at the meet.

"She has never been better," said trainer Delmer Webb. "I claimed her last year for $5,000 and I never expected to run her in stakes, but she has been outrunning everything she has hooked. She broke slowly in both of her losses at this meeting, and that's my biggest worry for this race. It will help if she draws outside."

Wegota Slewzy was favored at 6-5 when she met Barmara, but tired slightly after dueling for the lead throughout.

"She is tougher when she can sprint clear," said trainer Jim Fergason. "She probably could have done that last time, but the rider was trying to save some horse and we ended up getting hooked. She still ran very well, but it might make a difference if she can open up on them this time."

A pair of fillies from the barn of trainer Nick Lowe also figure to contend. Nichole's Delight may attract the most support following two impressive sprint wins at Turf Paradise and an easy win in December's Oregon Hers Stakes at this track.

Lowe feels that his other entrant, Paper Wings, should not be ignored. Paper Wings, a well-bred daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note and Promiscuous Angel, by leading sire Deputy Minister, followed an 8 1/2-length maiden win in Novem-ber with a 2 1/4-length allowance win here last Saturday.

"Even before she broke her maiden, I thought she was the most valuable horse in my barn, and I still do," Lowe said. "I think she'll be at her best going long, but she can be effective sprinting if she has a decent pace to shoot at, and it looks like there will be a lot of speed in this race on Sunday."

Racing Commissioners convention

The Northwest will play host to the Association of Racing Commissioners International April 23-27, when the organization holds its annual convention in Seattle's Grand Hyatt Hotel.

General sessions, which are open to all racing industry attendees, will begin Friday, April 25, at 8:30 a.m. Among the topics to be taken up Friday are wagering technology and security, slot machines at race tracks, and the regulatory challenges posed by the changing parimutuel industry. Among those slated to speak on the latter topic is Oregon Racing Commission chair Steve Walters.

Saturday's sessions will be devoted to issues impacting the health and welfare of race horses and stable area workers, including equine medication and backstretch living conditions.

Grady named Portland Meadows GM

Jack Grady has been appointed general manager at Portland Meadows as of last Friday. Grady replaces interim general manager Chris Dragone, who has been filling in since Carl Wilson left the post in November. Grady, a 39-year-old Maryland native, formerly operated the South Philadelphia Turf Club, one of the nation's largest offtrack betting facilities, for Philadelphia Park in Pennsylvania.