01/12/2008 12:00AM

Deep closer once again meets rival


PORTLAND, Ore. – Rock the Stone will shoot for his sixth win from seven starts at the meeting in Monday’s top offering at Portland Meadows, a mile and 70-yard race for $8,000 claimers that has drawn a field of seven.

Rock the Stone, a 9-year-old son of Prospect Bay from the barn of trainer Armando Rodriguez, has been remarkably consistent for a horse who comes from far off the pace. He won his first four starts at the meeting against $4,000 rivals, coming from as far back as 20 lengths. He then failed to catch Pioneering Pro when bumped to the $6,250 level, but he avenged that loss by defeating Pioneering Pro and others in a mile race for $8,000 claimers on Dec. 18.

Rock the Stone races for owner Donna Davis, who led the trainer standings at Portland Meadows in 1986 with a stable that included the legendary Greek Native.

Pioneering Pro again figures as Rock the Stone’s chief rival. The 6-year-old Pioneering Pro, trained by Kristine Shortridge, defeated Rock the Stone by two lengths in a mile and 70-yard race for $6,250 claimers on Dec. 10. In the rematch against that rival eight days later at a mile, he led into the lane but could not resist Rock the Stone’s late move and wound up third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

Also dangerous is Gomour Pile, who finished fourth in the Dec. 18 race won by Rock the Stone. In his previous race on Dec. 10, Gomour Pile posted an authoritative mile win over $10,000 claimers, only to be disqualified for what appeared to be an inconsequential foul.