05/12/2005 11:00PM

Debbie's Assault needs better trip


AUBURN, Wash. - Debbie's Assault did very well to run second at 9-1, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Queenledo, in the U.S. Bank Stakes here on opening weekend. The six-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies, her first start of 2005, was effectively just the second race of Debbie's Assault's career, since she lost her rider at the start in her debut.

Even so, trainer Bob McMeans can't help but feel that she might have done even better.

"She moved with Queenledo on the turn, but she got blocked down on the inside and she didn't find a place to run until the eighth pole," said McMeans. "By that time, Queenledo was gone. I really think she could have made a race of it if she had found running room when she needed it."

Debbie's Assault, a daughter of Belong to Me who races for Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms, will have a chance to turn the tables on Queenledo in Sunday's $50,000 Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Debbie's Assault also broke about two lengths behind the field in the U.S. Bank, which is something she has done in each of her outings.

"I think that's something we're just going to have to live with," McMeans said. "I've taken her to the gate a lot of times in the morning, and she has never really left there running. I wish she would break better, but I can't count on that. I do think she can overcome a slow break with a good trip, though."

McMeans believes she may be up to the task on Sunday. "She has worked very well since her last race, and the extra sixteenth should help her a bunch," he said. "She still isn't as experienced as some of the others, but I think she learned a lot last time. She ate a lot of mud and she really didn't like the footing that much, but she kept coming. All in all, I thought it was a pretty encouraging effort."

Paxton bought Debbie's Assault for $300,000 as a yearling at Keeneland's September sale in 2003. Her dam, Amal Hayati, won a pair of Grade 3 stakes while earning nearly $299,650.

Roanaway Bride steps up from allowance

The new shooter in the Federal Way is Roanaway Bride, who comes off an impressive two-length allowance win on April 17, the same day the U.S. Bank Stakes was run. Roanaway Bride got 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03 to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 80, 4 points higher than Queenledo's figure for winning the stakes.

"She ran an awesome race that day, and she came out of it just great," trainer Doris Harwood said of Roanaway Bride. "I'm pretty excited about running her in the stakes."

Roanaway Bride, a daughter of Runaway Groom who races for Ken Alhadeff's Elttaes Stable, won one of three starts last year, defeating $40,000 maidens at 5 1/2 furlongs, but she went to the sidelines in early September.

"I was pointing her toward the Diane Kem Stakes on Washington Cup Day, but she came down with a virus and I stopped on her," said Harwood. "That's really the only problem she has ever had. She is a very sound filly, and she really muscled up nicely over the winter. I'm expecting big things from her this year."

Theriot to ride in New Mexico

Jockey Brian Theriot has moved his tack from Emerald to Albuquerque, N.M., where he was scheduled to ride five horses on Saturday's New Mexico Cup program. Former Northwest rider Mike James will handle Theriot's book at Albuquerque.

Theriot rode two winners from 18 mounts through the first 12 days of this meet and is tied for 13th in the jockey standings.

Live handle up, but simulcast betting drops

Final figures for the 78-day Portland Meadows meeting that closed on April 24 show a slight gain in wagering on the track's live racing, while wagering on simulcasts from outside the state fell.

The daily average handle on live racing came in at $273,379, which represented a gain of 1.2 percent over the average of $270,181 at the 84-day meeting in 2003-04.

Wagering on simulcasts for the six-month span of the meeting, including dark days, was $26,408,023. That represented a decline of 17.3 percent from the $31,949,315 bet on simulcasts during the previous meeting.