05/13/2004 12:00AM

Cascade Corona returns


AUBURN, Wash. - Cascade Corona, off since last summer, returns to racing in Saturday's best race at Emerald Downs, a $32,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

A 4-year-old daughter of Pine Bluff, Cascade Corona made an auspicious debut in her lone start at 2, winning by more than eight lengths against maiden special weight company. She looked just as good in her first start last year, defeating optional $50,000 claimers by over six lengths, but she followed that victory with a pair of subpar efforts, and trainer Jim Penney elected to turn her out in August.

"She had what appeared to be a minor ailment, but sometimes minor ailments can turn into something else if you continue," said Penney. "She is too nice a filly to take any chances, so we decided to be conservative."

Cascade Corona has returned to work brilliantly this spring. Her last three drills were bullets, capped by six furlongs from the gate in 1:10.60 on May 9.

"She came back from that work really well, so we think we have her cranked up for this race," said Kay Cooper, Penney's daughter and assistant. "She had better be cranked up. There is a stakes for her in two weeks."

Cascade Corona may get her stiffest opposition from Calldara, who was weighted out of last Sunday's Hastings Park Handicap. Calldara was the champion 2-year-old filly here in 2002, when she won the Angie C. Stakes and the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes, but she did not win in six tries last year. Calldara is coming off a fifth in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance test April 17 and should be set to improve.