04/19/2002 12:00AM

Canadian lends international flavor to U. S. Bank

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AUBURN, Wash. - International showdowns have enlivened Northwest racing for decades, and another such match-up will occur on Sunday when British Columbian star Lasting Code invades to take on local star Strong Credentials and others in Sunday's six-furlong, $35,000 U. S. Bank Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Lasting Code, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Lost Code who races for Lola McCarthy and Ole Nielsen will be saddled on Sunday by local trainer Jim Penney. She won two 6 1/2-furlong stakes in as many starts at Hastings Park last summer before running second, beaten a head by Ashbecca, in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch stakes at Emerald. She took the winter off before starting up again this spring at Hastings, then shipped here earlier this week for what stable manager Tracy McCarthy said will be an extended stay.

"Most of the early stakes at Hastings are for B.C.-breds, so it makes sense to leave her here for her first three or four races this year," said McCarthy, who is the daughter of Lola McCarthy and the wife of rider Chris Loseth. "We raced Ever Lasting and Lasting Chance here in the past, so it's nothing new for us."

McCarthy said Lasting Code wintered especially well, adding muscle and maturity.

"We're really pleased with her," she said. "She was a good-sized filly at 2, but now she has filled out her frame and become a lot stronger. She is in excellent condition, and we're looking forward to seeing what she can do on Sunday. I'm not really sure who she'll be meeting, but I think she's ready."

Strong Credentials figures as the best of the locals after winning both of her starts here last summer, including the six-furlong Angie C. Stakes. Owner Jerre Paxton then sent his Carson City filly to trainer Richard Lundy at Arlington Park, where she ran a creditable third in the six-furlong Top Flight Stakes in September despite falling far back early.

"I understand they took her off the pace on purpose in that race, but we won't be doing that here," said Bob McMeans, who trains the filly at Emerald. "I've always felt that speed was her best asset, so if she is not near the lead on Sunday it will be because she got outrun."

McMeans reported that Strong Credentials's cross-country jaunt took a toll, but that she has bounced back nicely.

"She was still underweight when she came back to the track this spring, so I had to put weight on her and get her fit at the same time," he said. "It took a while, but she is back to normal now. She really didn't grow much over the winter, but she still has the same great attitude and she has been training well. She has worked six furlongs a couple of times, so she should be fit.

"Now we'll just have to see who is best."

Arctic White nears debut

Arctic White, who is one of just a dozen Thoroughbreds ever to be registered as pure white in color, worked a useful five furlongs from the gate in 1:02 flat on Thursday. Under Jennifer Whitaker, Arctic White worked in company with another runner from the barn of trainer Howard Belvoir, Nakaz. The two worked head and head throughout, with Arctic White on the inside, and both appeared to be under some restraint.

Belvoir, who trains Arctic White for breeder and owner Dalene Knight, said the 3-year-old son of Airdrie Apache should make his debut in about two weeks.

"He is close to being ready now, but I want to make sure I have him good and tight," said the trainer. "He is a valuable horse because of his color, so I can't run him for a claiming price. I'm sure he'll have to run against some nice horses, and I want to make sure he is ready."

Another equine rarity should make her Emerald Downs debut at about the same time. Painted La Riva, who is one of a handful of horses to be registered both as a Thoroughbred and a Paint, made her career debut in a maiden special weight event at Portland Meadows in February, before the track closed.

"She broke slowly and raced way wide, but she finished fast to get third," reported trainer Jim Keen. "I was very pleased, because I had to rush to get a start in her and I really don't think she was ready."

Painted La Riva is another 3-year-old by Airdrie Apache, and she also races for breeder Dalene Knight, who specializes in breeding colorful horses.

Televised replays of each day's racing at Emerald will be aired on Fox Sports Network the following morning at 6 a.m., not at 6:30 a.m. as previously announced.