10/20/2004 11:00PM

Baze runners in Kem differ in style


PORTLAND, Ore. - Trainer Robbie Baze won last Saturday's Inaugural Handicap with quality, sending out the field's most accomplished runner in Slewicide Cruise. For this Saturday's Diane Kem Handicap, he will try quantity.

Baze intends to saddle two entrants in the Diane Kem, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares with a purse of $10,000. His contingent will be made up of the 3-year-old Breakin My Heart and the 4-year-old Charlie's Charmer.

"I'd prefer not to run them against each other, but I'm afraid this might be their only chance to run for a while," said Baze.

Both Breakin My Heart and Charlie's Charmer are coming off victories at Emerald Downs in September. Breakin My Heart led throughout to defeat $16,000 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, while Charlie's Charmer came from off the pace to beat $12,500 fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"They are both sharp now, and Breakin My Heart has trained especially well since we moved down here," said Baze. "I think she really likes this track."

Baze noted that his Kem entrants, who will not be coupled in the wagering, have separate styles. Breakin My Heart normally runs on the lead, while Charlie's Charmer comes from well back.

"They shouldn't get in each other's way," said the trainer. "And no matter how the pace goes, it should suit at least one of them."

Icicle Angel bids for three-peat

Icicle Angel will be shooting for her third consecutive Diane Kem victory on Saturday. A 7-year-old daughter of La Saboteur, Icicle Angel won the 2002 and 2003 renewals for trainer Dick Occhiuto, who claimed Icicle Angel for his wife, Debra, out of her career debut in August of 1999, when she was in for an $8,000 claiming price at Emerald Downs. Occhiuto has been sidelined by health problems, however, so trainer Cathy Crispin has prepared Icicle Angel to defend her Kem title.

"I've had her here with me since the Emerald meeting ended," said Crispin. "She has been training really well, and I think she is ready to run a big race. I have been around her quite a bit over the years, because I used to help Dick out, and it seems to me that she is as good as ever."

Crispin said she took out her trainer's license in 1982, but has not trained under her own name since 1998. She took 1999 off to have a child, and she has served as assistant to trainer Troy Taylor since returning to the track.

"It is fun to be back training again," she said. "I have seven horses for Dick and one other, so that's enough to keep me busy."

Gibson back as a trainer

Among the other trainers returning to Portland Meadows after an absence of several years is Mark Gibson, who has served as the starter at Emerald Downs for the past 5 1/2 seasons. He plans to return to his post at Emerald next season. Meanwhile, he is enjoying caring for his stable of a dozen horses.

"I'm really loving it," he said. "My wife, Valerie, came down to gallop for me, so this is something we can do together. It's a lot less stressful than being the starter, too. As a starter, you have to try to please everyone. Now I only have to please a few owners, and one of them is my mom."

Gibson said his experience as a starter has changed his perspective on taking his horses to the gate.

"I'm a big believer in schooling horses at the gate, and I don't just mean 2-year-olds who need to be approved," said Gibson. "I try to take all of my horses to the gate at least two or three times between their races. Some trainers try to avoid the gate as much as they can, but I just don't buy that. It doesn't hurt any of them to get comfortable with the gate. It can only help."