05/15/2007 11:00PM

Call on Carson proves a bargain


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Dan Markle isn't ready to say that Call on Carson is the best horse he has ever claimed, but Call on Carson certainly has to be considered a prime candidate for that distinction.

Markle, acting on behalf of the partnership of Bruce Cudahy and Rob Sutherland of Tacoma and Janet Schimke-Crist of Seattle, claimed Call on Carson, a 3-year-old son of Lord Carson, out of a fourth-place finish in a $12,500 maiden claiming race at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 4. He has raced twice for his new connections, winning a maiden special weight race by five widening lengths at Emerald Downs on opening night and upsetting the talented Immigration in last Sunday's $45,000 Auburn Stakes at six furlongs.

"We were just hoping to claim a useful 3-year-old," Markle recalled. "This horse was correctly put together and he had a little pedigree, plus we were running out of time. We had to claim something before the Golden Gate meeting ended or we wouldn't be able to run him here. We were hoping for the best, but we sure didn't expect him to run through his bridle the way he has."

Call on Carson went to the front at the start in the Auburn under rider Kevin Radke, but Immigration, a three-time stakes winner at last year's meet, sat right off his hip through a half-mile in 44.20 seconds. Immigration bid for the lead turning into the stretch and may have gotten a nose in front, but Call on Carson dug back in to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths in a stakes record 1:08.00.

"It looked like Immigration was going to blow right on by him, but he had a fitness edge on Immigration and that was probably what made the difference this time," said Markle. "The next one will be the real test."

Call on Carson and Immigration, who was making his seasonal debut in the Auburn, will hook up next in the $60,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on June 3.

Shampoo earns distinction for dam

Mother's Day was last weekend, and the most prominent mother at Emerald Downs was Taste the Passion. She is remembered as the winner of the 1999 runnings of the Angie C. Stakes and the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes, but on Saturday she became the first Emerald stakes winner to produce a stakes winner at the 12-year-old track.

Taste the Passion's 3-year-old daughter by Gulch, Shampoo, came from just off the pace under Kevin Radke to win the six-furlong U.S. Bank Stakes by a commanding 4 1/2 lengths over the front-running On Duty in 1:08.40.

Shampoo's win launched a weekend stakes double for Radke, who ended the week in a 15-15 tie with Ricky Frazier for leading rider. He declined any credit for the U.S. Bank Stakes win, however.

"Anybody could have won with her today," Radke said. "She was all over that leader from the start. It was just a matter of when she would blow by her."

Trainer Doris Harwood certainly appreciated the easy win. Harwood began this meeting with a frustrating 0-for-24 streak that included a number of heart-breaking near-misses.

"I was never really concerned, because my horses were running well," she said. "I've been in this game long enough to know that things will even out in the end. Still, this is a great way to end the drought."

Shampoo, who has now won 2 of 5 starts, races for breeder Jerre Paxton. Paxton, who campaigns under the banner of Northwest Farms, also bred and owned Taste the Passion.

"It goes back farther than that, though," Paxton noted. "I raced Shampoo's great-great-grandmother, and I've bred and raced every generation that has come down from her."

Paxton and Harwood, teaming this time with rider Ricky Frazier, saw another of Taste the Passion's daughters win on Sunday. Smarty Deb, a 2-year-old daughter of Smart Strike and Taste the Passion, won the meet's first race for juveniles in noteworthy fashion. The only filly in a field of eight maiden special weight runners, Smarty Deb threaded her way through traffic to catch stablemate Dat's Dream in the final strides for a neck victory in 51 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs.

The clocking was the fastest at the distance ever recorded by a 2-year-old filly at Emerald Downs.

Ruis penalized for poor judgment

Jockey Mick Ruis has been suspended for six racing days, from May 18 through May 27, for "failing to give his best effort" in two races late last month.

Ruis eased Odessa Beach, who was beaten 62 lengths as the 4-5 favorite in the fourth race on April 27, and Fabadabado, who was beaten 42 lengths as a 9-1 shot in the fourth race on April 28.

Presiding steward Doug Moore said both horses were examined by the state veterinarian shortly after their races and again the next morning, and both were determined to be sound.

The stewards began a hearing with Ruis on April 29, but suspended the hearing until the horses involved ran back. After Fabadabado returned to win and Odessa Beach came back to run third, both with new riders aboard, the hearing was convened on May 12 and Ruis was handed the six-day suspension.

Moore emphasized that Ruis was suspended for poor judgment rather than dishonesty.

"We conducted a thorough investigation of the betting patterns for both of the races in which the horses were eased, and also for the races in which they ran back," he said. "There was nothing unusual. We don't think anything dishonest happened. We just think he used bad judgment."