09/10/2002 12:00AM

Distance the issue in feature


AUBURN, Wash. - The final leg of the Stanislaw Ashbaugh Series, which features enhanced purses for bottom-level starter allowance company, will be contested over 1 1/4 miles at Emerald Downs on Thursday. A field of 10 will vie for the $10,000 pot.

Favoritism should be hotly contested, all the more so because none of the entrants has credentials at Thursday's distance, but veterans Shawo Mountain and Tissington figure to have more than their share of backers.

Shawo Mountain, a 6-year-old son of Prospectors Gamble from the barn of leading trainer Tim McCanna, has three wins this year and 10 in his stellar career. A popular gray, he is best known as a front-running miler, but he may be able to stay 10 furlongs if allowed to dictate the pace. That seems possible, as there is no other confirmed front-runner in the Stanislaw Ashbaugh field.

Tissington also has 10 career wins, including three wins this season, but his style could scarcely be more different from that of Shawo Mountain. Tissington, a Jim Keen-trained 8-year-old by Polynesian Flyer, almost always comes from last place to finish with a flourish. Tissington failed to place in his lone try at 1 1/4 miles, but he has been finishing strongly against better company at middle distances in recent outings.

Not to be overlooked is Charlie Haan. A 4-year-old son of Rehaan, Charlie Haan has won just three races for trainer Pete Axemaker, but he scored at 33-1 last winter at Golden Gate and won at 27-1 here last month. With a stout pedigree and an advantage in the weights, Charlie Haan appears nicely spotted to pull off another upset.

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