06/13/2006 12:00AM

A Classic Life passes first of four stakes tests


AUBURN, Wash. - It's one down and three to go for A Classic Life, who won a thrilling edition of the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Handicap at Emerald Downs on Sunday by a hairbreadth over Queenledo, with Karis Makaw close behind in third.

Trainer Grant Forster said last Sunday's stakes was the first of a four-race local campaign that he has mapped out for A Classic Life. She is slated to come back in the one-mile King County Handicap on July 9, then proceed to the 1 1/16-mile Boeing Handicap on July 29 and the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff at a mile on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 20.

"It feels good to have the first one in the win column," said Forster. "She came out of the race well, so now we'll see if we can beat them again. I feel she will keep improving with distance, but the same is probably true of Queenledo and Karis Makaw. It won't get any easier."

A Classic Life, a 4-year-old daughter of Sky Classic who races for Mike and Amy Feuerborn, was originally slated to launch her local campaign in the six-furlong Hastings Park Handicap on May 14, but a mishap in her stall left her with scuffed shins. Forster now says he thinks that missing the Hastings Park might have been a blessing in disguise.

"She probably wouldn't have been able to get up in time at six furlongs anyway, and she wouldn't have been as fresh for Sunday's race," he said. "She needed all the speed she could muster to stay within striking distance, so everything worked out for the best."

On the other hand, it pains Forster to miss any opportunity to race A Classic Life at Emerald Downs, where she has proven to be nearly unbeatable. She has now won 6 of 7 local starts, including stakes in each of her three campaigns. She is winless in six starts elsewhere.

"She has trained like a champion everywhere she has gone, but there is no question there is a little extra bounce in her stride when she steps onto this track," said Forster. "She worked five times here before she ran on Sunday, and every workout was a bullet. She just loves it here."

Irish Day next for Diamond Dollars

Diamond Dollars passed her distance test last Saturday, winning the one-mile allowance feature by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths over She's All Silk in a highly creditable 1:36.40.

Trainer Bill Tollett said that Diamond Dollars, a 3-year-old daughter of Stravinsky who had won her two sprints at the meeting by wide margins, will now go on to the one- mile Irish Day Handicap on June 25.

"I was very pleased with the way she ran on Saturday, and the race should set her up really well for the stakes," said Tollett. "It wasn't a real hard race for her, she galloped out strong, and she seemed to come out of it very well."

Tollett already has two stakes wins at the meeting. Spanish Highway won the 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap for older horses and Diamond Dollars won the 6 1/2-furlong Federal Way Handicap. Those two figure to be prominent in their divisions throughout the meeting, and they will soon be joined by Keagan, an $80,000 claim who was scratched from his scheduled local debut in the June 4 Pepsi-Cola Handicap for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"There was nothing wrong with him, but there was a drying out track that day and I just didn't feel comfortable running him," said Tollett. "He is a better router anyway."

Keagan will now be pointed to the $65,000 Tacoma Handicap, a one-mile stakes, on July 2.

In addition, Tollett has two more older handicap runners he hopes to get started at the meet. The first is Diligent Prospect, a 4-year-old son of Diligence who won three straight races in Southern California, including the 6 1/2-furlong Foothills Stakes at Fairplex, before winning the six-furlong Swift Stakes at Turf Paradise in January. He last raced in a $50,000 sprint stakes at Sunland Park on March 4, finishing fourth.

The other is Ashby Hill, who won last November's six-furlong Lea County Stakes at Zia Park.

"They are both genuine stakes horses," said Tollett. "Diligent Prospect isn't that far away from a race, but Ashby Hill was turned out all winter and he just came back to the track on Sunday. There is a good chance he will race here toward the end of the meeting."

Expensive claims deliver wins

Trainer Carlos Moreno went out on a limb when he claimed Call Columbo for $20,000 and Andrea's Wish for $32,000 earlier at the meeting, but both returned dividends here last weekend. Call Columbo won Saturday's feature, a $25,000 optional claiming race for older horses at six furlongs, while Andrea's Wish won Sunday's sixth race, a mile race for fillies and mares that was also run under $25,000 optional claiming conditions.

"I felt pretty comfortable with both of those claims, but it was nice to see them come back and win," said Moreno. "I'm especially happy with Andrea's Wish, because she won pretty easily and she should continue to run well in routes."