07/08/2004 11:00PM

Bullock goes after stakes with 'special' filly


AUBURN, Wash. - If you are looking for a stakes winner in the 2-year-old filly division at Emerald Downs, trainer Steve Bullock's barn is a good place to start.

Bullock has won eight stakes with six different fillies in the division, including three runnings of the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at a mile, which usually decides the state juvenile filly championship. He has also won two renewals of the six-furlong Angie C. Stakes, with Amocat in 2000 and Calldara in 2002.

Bullock will take two shots at this year's Angie C., which will be run for the ninth time on Sunday, sending out Rosieontop and Bella Cantu. Rosieontop, a He's Tops filly, equaled the meet's fastest 4 1/2-furlong clocking for a 2-year-old when she graduated at the maiden special weight level in 51.40 on June 3. Bella Cantu finished a closing third in a maiden special weight test at five furlongs just last Sunday.

"Rosieontop gives me my best chance in this one," said Bullock. "She is a very nice filly."

Bullock said he broke six yearlings last winter for owner Charlie Dunn, who purchased Rosieontop as a weanling from the 2002 Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association winter sale for just $1,300. When Bullock was finished, Dunn offered him the chance to train the horse of his choice, with the others going to Dunn's regular trainer, Tim McCanna.

"I said I want the red filly," said Bullock, referring to the chestnut Rosieontop. "I knew she was special even then, and so did Tim. He was mad at me for picking her."

Considering her modest purchase price, Bullock could easily have started Rosieontop in a maiden claiming race. "Charlie suggested we start her out at $25,000, but I said no way," Bullock said. "I wasn't going to take a chance on losing her."

Bullock said Bella Cantu's best chance to earn black type will probably come in the Barbara Shinpoch, which will be run at a mile Aug. 28.

"She is a Kentucky-bred daughter of War Chant, so the only stakes she is eligible for here are the Angie C. and the Barbara Shinpoch," said the trainer. "I didn't want her to miss either of them, so that's why I'm running her back in a week. To tell you the truth, I probably rushed her into the race last Sunday, but I wanted her to get some experience. She still had some baby fat on her and the distance was too short, but she ran well anyway."

Bullock said he expects an improved effort from Bella Cantu in the Angie C., but that her best run will probably come around two turns.

"She is a good filly right now, but she'll be better when she gets more distance, and maybe grass, too," said the trainer. "She has a big future."

Charming Colleen shows early talent

Owner Frank Gaunt and trainer Aubrey Villyard teamed for their first Emerald Downs stakes win two weeks ago with Random Memo in the Tacoma Handicap, but they might not have to wait long for their second.

The two be represented by the probable favorite Charming Colleen in Sunday's Angie C. Stakes. Charming Colleen, a daughter of dual classic winner Charismatic, won her lone start against maiden special weight company on June 20 by an authoritative three lengths, going five furlongs in 57.80 seconds.

"I knew she was a nice filly, but it still kind of surprised me that she won at five furlongs," said Villyard. "Being by Charismatic, I thought she'd probably have to go at least 6 1/2 furlongs to get up in time."

Charming Colleen didn't just get up in time in her debut. She led throughout with crisp fractions of 22.20 and 45.40. Villyard said he isn't greatly concerned about whether she will go to the lead on Sunday.

"I think I'll just leave that up to the rider," he said. "She is such a smart filly, I think the rider could place her just about anywhere he wants her. She doesn't really strike me as a speed horse, but she has such a nice, easy stride that she really eats up the ground. She looks like she is floating, but she is going fast."

Matricule best of freshman sires

Though he will not be represented in the Angie C., there is little question that Matricule is the early star in this year's crop of freshman sires in Washington. Not only have Matricule's three starters all won, they have won quality races. The filly Cherry Bank won her debut last Sunday at the maiden special weight level, while colts My Buddy and Fuzzyheadedlizard earlier won against maiden special weight and $40,000 company, respectively.

Matricule, a son of A. P. Indy and the Green Dancer matron Maximova, stands at Bob and Barbara Meeking's Allaire Farms in Poulsbro, Wash.

Bob Meeking said that Matricule's racing career was compromised by bowed tendons, but he noted that he is a half-brother to no fewer than five stakes winners, including the successful sire Septieme Ciel.

"He is very well-bred, and he is a wonderful-looking horse," said Meeking. "He sends out good-looking foals, too, and so far they seem to be sound and pretty sensible, I think."

Meeking said Matricule serviced fewer than 20 mares in his first season at stud, but that number grew to approximately 40 last year and 63 in the just completed breeding season.