03/04/2005 1:00AM

'Crimson' looking fit off layoff


PORTLAND, Ore. - Crimson Design will make his seasonal debut Sunday at Portland Meadows, when he will head a field of eight older sprinters in an $8,000 invitational handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs.

A 4-year-old trained by Jim Fergason, Crimson Design won the first two starts of his career here last spring by a combined

20 1/4 lengths. He then won the six-furlong Auburn Stakes at Emerald Downs, defeating Random Memo by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09. Crimson Design could manage only two fourth-place finishes in four subsequent starts at Emerald, and Fergason turned him out when the Emerald meet ended in September.

Crimson Design resumed training here around Christmas and has recorded five official works, including three at five furlongs.

Crimson Design's sternest challengers are Freedom Fair and Something Clever. Both are coming off impressive wins.

Freedom Fair won a five-furlong invitational handicap here Feb. 13. Though he was sent off at 30-1 that day, Freedom Fair drew off to score by 4 1/4 lengths in 59.40.

Something Clever comes off a 2 1/4-length victory over $8,000 claimers in 1:12.60 for six furlongs. It was his second straight win under those conditions, and his third win from seven starts at the meeting.

Freedom Fair and Something Clever earned Beyer Speed Figures of 81 for their recent wins. Crimson Design's best Beyer, an 82, was earned in his stakes win at Emerald Downs.