04/09/2004 11:00PM

Dear John set to score on drop

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Dear John drops to the $3,200 claiming level in search of his first win at the meeting in Monday's best race, a six-furlong test that has drawn a field of six older sprinters.

Dear John, an 8-year-old son of Toooverprime who races for breeder and trainer Don Munger, has not won in eight starts at this meet, but he was second for a $5,000 tag in November and third against $4,000 rivals on March 9. In his last start on March 29, Dear John finished fifth against $6,250 foes, but he was beaten less than four lengths after six furlongs in a quick 1:12.41. He will be dropping to the lowest level of his career on Monday and should appreciate meeting softer company.

Driven Force and Scaffolds Legacy dead-heated for the win when racing under Monday's conditions on March 27 and each is a threat to repeat. Scaffolds Legacy set the pace that day, while Driven Force came from far back to share the winning time of 1:13.16.

Speedster is also coming off a win, having defeated $2,500 company April 3 with six furlongs in a very slow 1:15.03. It was his first win in two years and he will almost certainly need to do better to repeat.

Sideburn and Theycallmecolonel round out the field. Sideburn closed for fourth behind the dead-heating Driven Force and Scaffolds Legacy in his most recent outing, while Theycallmecolonel faded to sixth after pressing the early pace in that same race. Theycallmecolonel, who will be making just his second start since September, is again expected to play a key role by engaging Scaffolds Legacy early.