07/13/2006 11:00PM

Cascade Rose justifying price tag

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AUBURN, Wash. - Sunday's six-furlong Angie C. Stakes for 2-year-old fillies is the first stakes at the meeting for juveniles, so it is almost by definition a wide-open affair.

The first place to look for a winner would seem to be among the graduates from the maiden special weight ranks, however, and that narrows the search considerably. There have only been three maiden special weight races for 2-year-old fillies at the meeting, and the winners of the first two won't contest the Angie C. Flutter Girl, who beat straight maidens on May 13, has departed for California along with the rest of trainer Manny Calvario's string, and Sophie's Choice, who won on June 3, is on the shelf with what trainer Bill Tollett hopes is a minor ankle injury.

That leaves Cascade Rose, who beat maiden special weight rivals on June 24, when she got 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.80. Cascade Rose, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, attracted attention even before she raced; she was purchased as a weanling by owner Jerre Paxton for $325,000. Asked if the big price tag increased the pressure on her to get Cascade Rose to win at first asking, trainer Doris Harwood said, "Not at all."

"First of all," she said, "Jerre isn't the kind of owner to put pressure on a trainer. And secondly, we both sort of assumed that she would need a lot more ground to show her best stuff. It was a total shock to us that she was able to win at 5 1/2 furlongs, but it was a very pleasant surprise. The good ones run well going short when they're not supposed to, and that is what she did. Now we've got our hopes up."

Harwood said she still feels that Cascade Rose will improve around two turns, but she also thinks Cascade Rose has several things going for her Sunday.

"I was impressed by the class and competitiveness she showed in her first race, and I was surprised that she showed as much speed as she did," she said. "She has trained beautifully since then, and I really don't think she could be any fitter. She couldn't be any sounder, either, so I'm really pleased with the way she is coming into this race."

It is hard to like Cascade Rose without liking Welken as well, because Welken was beaten only a head by Cascade Rose in her lone start. A daughter of Sky Classic, Welken will have the added attraction of being coupled in the wagering with Jacolatt, an impressive winner over $20,000 maidens in her only outing. Both fillies were purchased by bloodstock agent Dana Halvorson for owner Rodney Orr as yearlings in Kentucky, and both are trained by Steve Bullock.

"I like both of them," said Bullock. "Welken broke awkwardly last time, and that probably cost her the race. She had shown a lot before she raced, which is why I put her in the maiden special weight race, and she came back to work five furlongs in 59.60.

While Welken was purchased for $30,000, Jacolatt, a daughter of Twining, cost just $10,500. Because of her relatively modest purchase price, Bullock said he felt he could get away with starting her off at the $20,000 level.

"I knew I was stealing for $20,000, and she won very easily," said Bullock. "She came back to work five furlongs in 1:00.80, which was slower than Welken went on the same day, but she ran the last eighth in 10 and change. I wouldn't underestimate her."

Another approach to finding the winner of the Angie C. is to try to isolate the fastest horse. That approach might lead to Marianne Rose. Trained by Richard Wright, Marianne Rose did not make her debut until last Saturday, when she blitzed a field of $40,000 maidens by 8 1/2 lengths in 58.20 for five furlongs. She earned a 65 Beyer for that performance, the highest at the meeting for any 2-year-old. The question Sunday will be if she can duplicate that number, or improve on it, while coming back on eight days' rest.

"It's not ideal, but I think she can do it," said Wright. "The key is that she won very easily, and the race didn't seem to take much out of her. She wasn't even blowing in the winner's circle."

Wright said owners John and Marianne Becker of Spokane purchased Marianne Rose for $21,000 as a weanling with the intention of pinhooking her as a yearling.

"It was a good plan, because she is really well bred," said Wright. "Her dam is a half-sister to a Grade 1 winner (Eagle Caf?, in Japan) and a Grade 2 winner (Let). The only problem was that she didn't grow, so they didn't get their price."

Wright said Marianne Rose is still small, but only in stature.

"She has good reach, and I think she has a good-sized heart," he said. "I'm really pretty excited about her."