09/18/2003 11:00PM

Corvallis Dee a twist on Klokstad approach


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Bud Klokstad will be gunning for a record seventh win in Sunday's $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles at Emerald, but he won't be employing his usual formula for success.

Klokstad's previous Gottstein winners - O. K. Yet, T. D. Passer, Time to Pass, Staff Rider, I. M. Bzy and Jumron Won - were all seasoned competitors who had announced their ability very early on.

Months before he made his first start in 1992, the trainer said Staff Rider might be the best horse he had ever trained. That was quite a statement, considering that Klokstad had developed Eclipse Award winner Chinook Pass, but it wasn't far wrong. Staff Rider went on to establish a single season earnings record at Longacres when he won five stakes and $280,549 as a juvenile.

Corvallis Dee, who is Klokstad's candidate for this year's Gottstein, is cut from a different cloth. Corvallis Dee, an $11,500 yearling purchase by Slewdledo, wasn't even owner Art McFadden's top 2-year-old prospect, let alone Klokstad's. He consequently made his debut for a $25,000 claiming price on Aug. 9. When he won that 5 1/2-furlong race in a rapid 1:03.20, splitting rivals in the stretch to defeat a next-out winner, Starbird Road, by three-quarters of a length, the trainer looked at him in a different light.

"He really impressed me that day, because he didn't do a single thing wrong," Klokstad said. "He was a total professional, and you just don't see that very often in a first-time starter."

The trainer was so impressed that he entered Corvallis Dee back in the one-mile WTBA Lads Stakes on Aug. 30, when he finished a close fourth despite being forced to steady in the upper stretch.

"There again he did everything right, but he just ended up in the wrong spot and had to wait for racing room," Klokstad said. "It was asking a lot of him to go long against stakes company in just his second start, but I thought he ran great."

Klokstad's opinion of Corvallis Dee is apparent from the fact that he will be starting the Washington-bred in the Gottstein instead of Sunday's restricted Captain Condo Stakes at six furlongs.

"I think he fits with those horses, and I definitely think he wants to go long," he said. "He showed that last time, and he should run better now that he has a route race in him. He is still giving away some experience, but I'm not sure that matters with this horse. He already acts like a horse who has run 10 times."

Wenzel likes his chances

In contrast to Klokstad, trainer Tom Wenzel will be taking his first really good shot at the Gottstein when he saddles the likely favorite, Harvard Avenue.

"I started Buddy Ransom in the Gottstein a few years ago, but we were just hoping," Wenzel recalled. "Harvard Avenue is the real deal. He has been a good horse from the beginning."

Harvard Avenue, a homebred son of You and I who races for Ron Crockett, won his debut in spectacular fashion, coming from well back on a muddy track to win off by more than six lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special. He then ran second to Sundance Circle in the six-furlong Emerald Express and dropped a close decision to Random Memo in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance before defeating both of those rivals in the WTBA Lads, when he ran the fastest mile (1:36.20) ever recorded by a juvenile at Emerald.

"I was really excited by his first race, and I wasn't all that disappointed when he got beat by Sundance Circle and Random Memo," Wenzel said. "I knew they were both really nice horses, and I thought I could get a little more out of Harvard Avenue by making a few adjustments. I did that for the Lads, and it all worked out. He had to swing wide and circle the field, so he really ran a heck of a race."

Wenzel is looking for a similar performance in the Gottstein.

"He has come into all of his races really well, and that's true again for this one," he said. "He has stayed very sound, and he is doing well mentally. Most horses by You and I can get a little warm, and he is no exception, but that doesn't seem to affect the way he runs. He has done everything we've asked of him, and I'm expecting him to show up again on Sunday."

Ema Bovary gearing up for return

Ema Bovary, the ultra-impressive winner of two sprint stakes here in May, registered her first workout after a lengthy freshening last Sunday, going three furlongs in 36 seconds under exercise rider Debbie Hoonan.

Owner Rick Beal said Ema Bovary, a Chilean-bred 4-year-old who has won 6 of 11 career starts, will work again this weekend before being shipped to trainer Larry Ross at Bay Meadows.

"She'll probably be ready to race in November," Beal said. "She won't actually turn 4 until next month, so she has a license to keep improving. We're all excited to see her run again."