11/16/2007 1:00AM

Difficult decision for Lady's Purse

EmailPORTLAND, Ore. - G.D. Khalsa, who trains the filly Lady's Purse for owner Michael Pollowitz, finds himself between a rock and a hard place in this weekend's twin stakes for 2-year-olds.

Khalsa didn't particularly want to run Lady's Purse back in Sunday's six-furlong Lassie Stakes against Jimbos Fire Ant, who beat Lady's Purse convincingly in the Janet Wineberg on Nov. 4, so he nominated her to Monday's six-furlong Columbia River Stakes as well. Then he checked the list of nominations for the Columbia River, which is open to both fillies and males, and noted that Dixieland Easy was nominated.

"I don't want to run against him, either," Khalsa said. "He was awesome in his first start here, and I was hoping they would send him back down south."

Dixieland Easy shipped here from Santa Anita after being purchased privately by K J Star Stable and won a maiden special weight race Nov. 4 by 14 lengths, earning a lofty Beyer Speed Figure of 83. Jerry Miller, stable manager for Ron Whitted's K J Star Stable, reported that Dixieland Easy is indeed scheduled to be sent to trainer Charles Essex at Turf Paradise, but not until after he contests the Columbia River.

Dixieland Easy's presence in the Columbia River has Khalsa taking another look at the Lassie, which is restricted to fillies.

"That's probably where we'll go," the trainer said. "I have a lot of respect for Jimbos Fire Ant, and we probably can't beat her sprinting if she runs her race. We have a good shot at second in Lassie, though, and the Columbia River looks like a deeper race. The important thing is just to get a race into her, because our main goal for her is the futurity. I think she'll be a better filly going long."

The one-mile Os West Oregon Futurity on Dec. 9, which now carries a purse of $40,000 added, is the main goal for Jimbos Fire Ant as well, and for just about every other 2-year-old Oregon-bred who has demonstrated ability.

As for Dixieland Easy, he is a Kentucky-bred and is not eligible to run in the Futurity. A son of Dixieland Band who was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale in February for $130,000, Dixieland Easy raced six times in California for trainer Doug O'Neill and twice finished second against $32,000 maidens at Fairplex. He was sold to K J Star Stable after running sixth on the same level at Santa Anita on Oct. 21.

"Doug said they had high hopes for him at one time, but he just didn't work out for them," Miller said. "He seems to need a dirt track, and the major tracks in California are all synthetic now. He was one of several horses we have bought from Doug, and we hope to buy more. We're not paying a lot for them, though we paid more for Dixieland Easy, and we'll be happy if a couple of them develop into nice horses for us. We're hoping to hit a home run with at least one of them, and maybe Dixieland Easy will be the one."

Bellamente finding success

Bellamente appears to have found a home at Portland Meadows.

Bellamente, a 6-year-old daughter of Boundary, has won twice here since being claimed by trainer Delmer Webb for $7,500 at Emerald Downs on Sept. 7. She led throughout a five-furlong allowance test on opening weekend, then returned to win last Sunday's $22,000 Diane Kem Handicap with another gate-to-wire performance in 1:12.40 for six furlongs.

"I was afraid she would be the kind of horse you can't find races for at Portland Meadows," Webb said. "When you don't want to run them for less than about $10,000 and they can't win allowance races or stakes, you're pretty much dead in the water here. There's nothing in between. It looks like she can run with the good ones, though, and it makes me feel pretty good that I was able to claim her for $7,500."

Bellamente should have plenty of opportunities to run through the remainder of the meeting, especially if Webb can get her to stretch her speed around two turns. He isn't anxious to run her too often, however.

"One thing I've learned about her is that she likes a lot of time between her races," Webb said. "She was off over a month before both of her wins here, mainly because I couldn't find races for her. She has really thrived on that schedule, though, so I'll try to stick to it from now on."

Webb reported that another of his stable stars, multiple stakes winner Tom Two, has logged two official workouts and appears to be on track to make his first start at the meeting on Oregon Championship Day, Dec.o9. Webb said Tom Two will start in the $10,000 Lethal Grande Oregon Sprint Championship, which has been renamed to honor the top Oregon-bred earner who succumbed to an injury here two weeks ago.

Mixed sale catalogs available

Catalogs are now available for the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's annual winter mixed sale, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Emerald Downs.

A total of 218 horses have been cataloged for the sale, including 123 yearlings by the state's most popular sires and by such nationally prominent stallions as Proud Citizen, Sky Mesa, Swiss Yodeler, Toccet, and Yankee Victor.

The Dec. 2 sale will be the last one conducted under the direction of longtime WTBA manager Ralph Vacca, who will retire at the end of the year. Vacca, 71, has served in his current post since succeeding Ed Heinemann in 1973. He helped to create such innovative programs as the Northwest Race Series, and was among the Washington Thoroughbred industry's steadiest leaders through the rocky years following the sale of Longacres in 1990.

Vacca will be succeeded by Duane Belvoir, who will become the WTBA's third general manager on Jan. 1.