03/17/2004 1:00AM

'Dapper Dandy' on a roll


PORTLAND, Ore. - Three-year-old Quarter Horses will take center stage on Friday, when a field of nine will contest the $6,000-added Portland Meadows Derby at 400 yards.

Heza Dapper Dandy will be shooting for his third straight score in the derby and could be favored off his current form. Heza Dapper Dandy, a sorrel son of Race for Cash from the barn of trainer Baxter Andruss, earned his stakes brackets with a victory in the Memorial Stakes at 350 yards on Jan. 30, then tuned up for Friday's engagement with a sharp win over allowance rivals going 300 yards on Feb. 21. Both of those outings were against Oregon-breds, however, and he will be meeting open company while stretching out in the derby. In three prior tries at 400 yards, he has posted two thirds and a second.

Heza Dapper Dandy figures to get his stiffest competition from Eyes Okey, who defeated allowance rivals going 350 yards here on March 5. Eyes Okey, an Okey Dokey Dale gelding who races for trainer Ron Raley, won a futurity last summer at Grants Pass and boasts a career record of three wins from seven starts, but he has never before attempted 400 yards.

Friday's Thoroughbred feature will match a field of seven older sprinters at 4 1/2 furlongs in the initial leg of the Rialto Sprint Series, which will be run under $4,000 starter allowance conditions.

Big Al T is the one to beat after posting three straight daylight wins here in December and January, but he will have to catch the extremely quick Baby Wave. Baby Wave, an 8-year-old with 10 wins, led throughout to defeat $2,500 company here at 4 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 13.