10/12/2005 11:00PM

Chestnut Lady can join elite cast

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AUBURN, Wash. - History suggests that it takes a truly exceptional filly to win the Gottstein Futurity, which will be contested for the 68th time Saturday at Emerald Downs.

Since the filly division of the Gottstein, then called the Washington Futurity, was eliminated after the 1963 running, only two fillies have managed to beat the boys in the state's premier race for 2-year-olds. The first was Belle of Rainier in 1981, when the race was still run at 6 1/2 furlongs. The legendary Belle of Rainier went on to earn $424,526 from 17 wins in 43 starts, and still ranks as the fifth-richest Washington-bred filly or mare of all time.

The second was Favored One in 1994, when the race was run in Yakima over its present distance of 1 1/16 miles. Favored One went on to win the Grade 2 Princess Stakes at Hollywood Park before her career was cut short by an injury after only 11 races.

Chestnut Lady will attempt to join that elite company in Sunday's running of the $100,000 Gottstein, and a lot of handicappers will be betting that she can succeed. Chestnut Lady, a daughter of Horse Chestnut from the barn of trainer Jim Penney, defeated maiden special weight company by leading throughout six furlongs in 1:10.40 in her Aug. 6 debut, then came from far back to win the Sept. 10 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes with a mile in 1:38.60. The 70 Beyer Speed Figure she earned that day tops the Gottstein field, and assistant trainer Kay Cooper said she feels Chestnut Lady is coming up to her best performance yet in her third start.

"I'm not usually big on running fillies against the boys, but she is a special filly and she is really on top of her game right now," said Cooper. "She is obviously very versatile, and it looks as though the added distance will be to her advantage. It will be a tough race for her, but we think she deserves a shot."

Cooper is in a good position to judge whether Chestnut Lady fits in the Gottstein, since she also trains WTBA Lads winner Schoolin You, who will be coupled with Chestnut Lady in the wagering. Schoolin You, a son of You and I, got a mile in 1:37.20 in the Sept. 11 Lads to win for the first time in his fifth start. He was eligible to run back in the Oct. 2 Captain Condo Stakes at six furlongs, but his connections opted instead to train him into the Gottstein.

"He's not really a sprinter, and we didn't want to turn him back in distance," said Cooper. "He has trained very well into this race, and we think he's ready."

Cooper said both Chestnut Lady and Schoolin You worked a half-mile after galloping seven furlongs at a two-minute clip on Oct. 4. Chestnut Lady got the half-mile in 48.40 seconds and Schoolin You went in 47.60, but they did not work together.

"We have never worked them together," she Cooper. "They have their own schedules, but they happened to work on the same day last time and they both did just what we wanted. They are both doing extremely well."

Chestnut Lady and Schoolin You will race coupled because Mike and Amy Feuerborn own Chestnut Lady and share ownership in Schoolin You with John and Janene Maryanski. A third Penney trainee, Sharper Edge, will race as a separate entry.

Despite fielding three starters in the Gottstein, Penney and Cooper won't be quite as busy this weekend as they had hoped. Their Flamethrowintexan will be forced to miss a scheduled start in Sunday's $100,000 British Columbia Premier's at Hastings.

"He spiked a temperature of 103 degrees, so we have to skip that race," said Cooper. "We're very disappointed, but there isn't anything we can do about it."

Raise the Bluff has a shot

Raise the Bluff appears to have the best chance to upset the Penney-trained entry on Saturday, as he was beaten only a half-length by Schoolin You in the WTBA Lads. Raise the Bluff, a son of Preakness winner Pine Bluff from a mare by Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner A. P. Indy, forged to the front at midstretch, but couldn't quite hold off the late charge of Schoolin You while finishing four lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

"I thought he ran a good race that day, and I hope he can run a little better this time," said trainer Junior Coffey. "He's not a real showy horse in the morning, but I've tried to train him the way he wants to be trained and he seems to be responding. I think I've got him fit enough to go 1 1/16 miles."

Coffey said he was encouraged that the final quarter of the Lads was run in a highly creditable 24.40 seconds. The fillies needed 26.60 for the final quarter of the Shinpoch a day earlier, but it should be noted that the track was slower that day and that Chestnut Lady closed 8 1/2 lengths through the last quarter-mile.