05/21/2001 12:00AM

Crafty Boy defies the aging process


AUBURN, Wash. - Crafty Boy, who will make his seasonal bow in Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong, $35,000 Fox Sports Net Handicap at Emerald Downs, is now 6. That's an age at which most horses lose a step, but trainer Bill Beamer feels Crafty Boy, a 17.2-hand son of Let's Go Blue, will prove an exception to the rule.

"Things are really just coming together for this horse," said Beamer. "He is very lightly raced for a 6-year-old, mainly because of his size. The owner never wanted to rush him. She gave him time to develop and mature, and I give her a lot of credit for that.

"I hope her patience will pay off now. I look for him to have his best year yet."

Crafty Boy, who races for his breeder, British Columbia resident Shandra Williams, did not race at 2 and raced only four times at 3, notching a pair of wins and a hard-luck second in the Autumn Leaves Stakes at Hastings Park. As a 4-year-old, he won an optional claiming race at Emerald and finished third and fourth in a pair of stakes from six starts, and last year at 5 he started eight times. Although he did not win, Crafty Boy ran the best races of his career finishing second in the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile, second in the $100,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, and third to Edneator and Big Ten in the Grade 3 $250,000 Longacres Mile.

"He was on the verge of being an elite horse all season," noted Beamer. "He ran against the best horses in the Northwest, and he was either right there or had a legitimate excuse in every race. He absolutely should have won the Mt. Rainier, but he got beat a head by Bold Words after being stopped in the stretch.

"We're just hoping that some of the breaks that went against him in the past will go his way this season, and that he'll fulfill his potential."

Crafty Boy has been working as though ready to do just that. His work tab is littered with bullets, including a five-furlong drill in 58 seconds flat and a six-furlong work in 1:10.40.

"He has always worked fast, but he has been especially impressive this spring," said Beamer. "We've actually been trying to slow him down. Tommy Kidwell has been up for most of his works, and we figure Tommy weighs about 185 pounds with all of his tack. The one who has had the most success in slowing him down is Javier Matias, who is going to ride him Sunday. Javier seems to fit him great.

"I would expect him to be up close to the pace in this race because he is fresh, but I hope Javier can save something for the stretch. I'll be happy if he just runs a good race and takes a step forward. Our main goal for him is the Longacres Mile."

Country Echo preparing for comeback

Trainer Clint Harris reported that Country Echo, the top 3-year-old colt or gelding at Emerald in 1999, is back in training after missing virtually all of his 4-year-old season with foot problems.

"He has been in training for 45 days at Canyon Road Training Center in Yakima, and we're bringing him back to the track next Tuesday," said Harris. "He looks really good. We gave him a whole year off so that his quarter crack could grow out, and we're hoping he'll come back as good as ever."

Fair dates approved

The Oregon Racing Commission approved dates for two county fair meets at its meeting in Portland on Thursday. Prineville will race four days, July 11-14, while Tillamook will race three days, Aug. 9-11.

The ORC also approved three applications for licenses to operate multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hubs. The three new licensees are Youbet.com, which is currently based in Pennsylvania; Americatab, Ltd., which currently operates in Ohio; and Greyhound Channel, LLC, which is currently doing business as US Off-Track.

The commission turned down a request from former jockey Jody Davidson to have his riding license reinstated.