01/11/2008 1:00AM

Crispin opts for 'Wheatie' in sprint


PORTLAND, Ore. - Jockey Joe Crispin has done everything expected of him at this meeting, winning with 90 of his 283 Thoroughbred mounts to more than double his nearest pursuer in the rider standings. Why not let him do your handicapping for you as well?

Sunday's feature, a six-furlong race for $5,000 claimers that has attracted a field of six, seems to boil down to a contest between Ice Hollow and Speedy Wheatie. Crispin rode Ice Hollow to a creditable third-place finish under identical conditions here Dec. 9, but it may be telling that he gets off Ice Hollow to ride Speedy Wheatie in Sunday's headliner.

Speedy Wheatie, a 6-year-old son of Wheaton from the barn of trainer Nick Lowe, won his first two career outings here in 2006 en route to a fifth-place finish in the Governor's Speed Handicap and a sixth-place showing in the Portland Meadows Mile. He tired badly off a long layoff in a six-furlong allowance on Dec. 17 before finishing fourth of 10 against $6,250 rivals at 5 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 1. He appears primed to resume his best form in his third start back from vacation, and Crispin's presence figures as a strong plus.

Crispin's seat aboard Ice Hollow will be taken by second-leading rider Clark Jones, who is no stranger to the Jim Fergason-trained 4-year-old. Jones rode Ice Hollow in the second and third starts of his four-race career and was up for his win over maiden special weight company on Nov. 26. A repeat of his performance that day might be good enough for the win.