02/10/2005 1:00AM

'Clancy' poses a tactical problem


PORTLAND, Ore. - Chancy Chancy and her owner and trainer, Dave Runyon, have the other entrants in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Sweetheart Stakes at Portland Meadows in something of a pickle. Chancy Chancy's speed may cause a dilemma for her rivals. If they try to go with her, they make themselves vulnerable to the late charge of Quiz the Maid and the other closers in the field. If they don't, they risk seeing a fresh Chancy Chancy pull away from them through the stretch.

Before Chancy Chancy's last two outings, both in one-mile invitational handicaps, on Jan. 8 and 22, Runyon gave rider Melissa Peery explicit instructions.

"I told her to get to the front no matter what it takes," Runyon said. "I said to Quarter Horse her out of the gate if you have to, but make sure you get to the front. I told her I'd take the blame if she got beat."

Peery did as she was told and Chancy Chancy, a 5-year-old daughter of Stately Wager, responded with two wire-to-wire wins. It should come as no surprise that Runyon plans to issue the same instructions on Saturday.

"The only way that Chancy Chancy is going to get there is on the front end, so that's where we want her," said Runyon. "If somebody wants to go with her then fine, we'll set it up for Quiz the Maid. But my horse is pretty fast, and she is about as fit as she can be. I don't think anybody who tries to go with her will be around at the finish."

Root to stick with plan

Nobody feels that dilemma more acutely than trainer Ben Root, who will saddle Pete's Dolly for the Sweetheart. Pete's Dolly, a 4-year-old daughter of Petersburg, defeated a not-quite-fit Chancy Chancy in the Dec. 26 City of Roses Handicap at a mile, but she could not get by that rival after assuming a stalking position in the invitational handicap. In fact, she tired from her mid-race efforts and yielded second to the late-running Quiz the Maid. Will she be more aggressive in the Sweetheart, or less so?

"This looks like a three-horse race on paper, so I'm not willing to go head and head with Chancy Chancy for three-quarters and wind up fifth," said Root. "I just don't think that's the way to go. Besides, I'm not convinced she can't win from off the pace, especially if she draws outside of Chancy Chancy. Last time she drew the rail and she had to take back and loop around her to put some pressure on her. If she is on her outside to begin with, she might just be able to sit off her hip and get by her in the stretch."

Look for Quiz the Maid late

Quiz the Maid's trainer Jim Fergason, has no decisions to make regarding tactics in the Sweetheart. Quiz the Maid, a 4-year-old daughter of Basket Weave, does her best running from far off the pace. She won three straight races from well back to begin this meeting, then she was taken up to avoid a spill in the City of Roses before falling just short of catching Chancy Chancy in her last two outings.

"I guess it would help us if somebody would go out and hook Chancy Chancy, but I'm not too concerned about that," said Fergason. "She wants to relax early, and I think most of the times she has gotten beat it was because she was too close to the pace. She just doesn't have the same kick when she is close early."

Fergason feels there are at least two reasons for Quiz the Maid to run better on Saturday, regardless of pace considerations.

"Getting another sixteenth of a mile to work with will help her," said the trainer. "Probably the biggest thing, though, is getting her confidence back after the spill. She didn't fall that day, but she had to jump a fallen horse and her legs got cut up. People don't realize how that affects a horse, but it takes them a while to get their confidence back. I think she has got it back now, and that can make a big difference."

Baze and Colello suspended

Trainers Robbie Baze and George Colello Jr. have been suspended 15 days and 30 days, respectively, for medication violations. Baze-trained Calaverite, winner of the ninth race on Jan. 3, and Colello-trained Jojustice and Wild Stories, who won the second and fifth races on Jan. 2, all tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid. All three horses were disqualified and the purses were redistributed.