11/14/2008 12:00AM

Chief Jafatica looks primed for Dodge run


Trainer Jim Fergason hopes to repeat his sweep in the Nov. 2 Bill and Janet Wineberg stakes on Sunday when he sends out Chief Jafatica and Catalina Harbor in the Dennis Dodge Memorial and Diane Kem, a pair of $18,000 six-furlong stakes races for 2-year-olds at Portland Meadows.

Chief Jafatica will be gunning for his third straight Portland Meadows stakes win in the Dennis Dodge, named for the late Daily Racing Form correspondent. Dodge, 62, died suddenly of a Sept. 9 heart attack in Seattle. He had worked for Daily Racing Form for 32 years.

"He was a good friend of the horsemen," Fergason said. "Everybody liked him. Nobody ever said a bad word about him."

The Portland Meadows director of racing, Jerry Kohls, said naming the former Columbia River Stakes in honor of Dodge was a natural move.

"He was a great ambassador of Northwest racing," Kohls said. "One of the things about Dennis is that he was always positive about Portland Meadows and racing. After we got the bad news and got over the shock, we wanted to name a stakes race after him."

Kohls said Dodge would drive from Seattle "almost every weekend" to attend races at Portland Meadows and talk with trainers and jockeys. He said he and Dodge would sit together watching races.

Kohls said Sunday's race was chosen because it was a 2-year-old race.

"Dennis was a great fan of 2-year-old racing," Kohls said. "Every 2-year-old race, he'd go down to the paddock to look at the horses."

Dodge would probably like what he saw in Chief Jafatica, who has 2 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in 6 starts. He has already won the OTOBA Stakes and the Bill Wineberg.

"He's easygoing, always seems to have something left," said Fergason, who will also saddle Beau Rialto, a winner in his debut, in the Dodge.

Fergason calls the Dodge a prep for the Dec. 7 Os West Oregon Futurity. He is not concerned about coming back quickly with Chief Jafatica.

"It's two weeks since that race and three to the Futurity," he said. "I weighed it. If I didn't run here, I'd have to train him a little harder."

In addition to his stablemate, Chief Jafatica will meet Go Bubba Go, who ran second to him in the OTOBA, and Ex Tremely Cool, the Wineberg runner-up.

Catalina Harbor, who broke her maiden in winning the Janet Wineberg after running second in her first three starts, has six rivals in the Diane Kem.