05/29/2008 11:00PM

Easy Going Cecil set for best


AUBURN, Wash. - Easy Going Cecil will make his belated stakes debut on Sunday in the $60,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Easy Going Cecil, a speedy son of The Deputy who has won his last three starts impressively, was slated to start in the six-furlong Auburn Stakes here on May 11. Instead, he stayed in his stall nursing a sore foot.

"He stepped on himself in his stall two days before the Auburn," said trainer Blaine Wright. "It was a very minor deal and I probably could have run him, but I wanted to be sure he was 100 percent before I sent him out against that bunch. If he gets beat, I want it to be on my terms. I didn't want to be left wondering whether it was because of his foot or because he just got outrun."

Wright feels he now has Easy Going Cecil in peak condition.

"I only missed three days of training with him, and he bounced back quickly," said the trainer. "He worked five furlongs in company with Jaton Carries On Wednesday morning, and he went really well. They caught him in 58 flat. He seems to be at the top of his game."

If Easy Going Cecil manages to win on Sunday, it will mark a meteoric rise for a horse who was claimed for just $16,000 at Golden Gate on Jan. 13.

"We got lucky with him," said Wright. "We were looking for a lightly raced 3-year-old with speed, and I thought he might fill the bill. I called my friend Mark Rheinford, who was training down there, and he made the claim for us. Mark kept him in training for us down there for two months, and he deserves a lot of the credit for the way he has turned out so far."

Easy Going Cecil returned to action here on April 20 against $40,000 claimers and showed the way under Gallyn Mitchell before drawing off to score by more than three lengths in 1:02.60 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

"That race was very encouraging, but it didn't prove he can run with the horses he will face on Sunday," said Wright. "Still, he hasn't done anything wrong yet. He's a cool little horse. He is very calm and he trains nice and easy, but when you ask him to run he loves to mix it up. Like I said, we got lucky with him. Time will tell how lucky."

Red Redding the fresh face for Essex

Another newcomer to the stakes ranks in the Pepsi-Cola is Red Redding, who graduated on the maiden special weight level at Santa Anita in March before running fourth and fifth against $80,000 optional claimers. Red Redding, a Kentucky-bred son of Hold that Tiger, was purchased privately by Ron Whited's KJ Star Stable shortly after his last race at Hollywood on May 14. He arrived at local trainer Charlie Essex's barn almost two weeks ago.

"I haven't done much with him because he raced so recently," said Essex. "I worked him a real easy half-mile on Wednesday, but that was mainly to let Katie Repp get to know him before she rides him on Sunday. He seems like a real classy individual, but it is hard to guess how he will fit with our stakes horses. We really got him to go long, but we hope he will be competitive in this race and show that he belongs."

Westsideclyde doing fine

Trainer Craig Roberts reported that Westsideclyde, who was beaten just a head by Wasserman in his seasonal debut in last Sunday's FSN Handicap, came out of the race in excellent condition.

"That's the important thing," said Roberts. "Of course we would have loved to win that race, but he really exceeded our expectations. We've been playing catch-up with this horse, and I was afraid he would be a little short, so I didn't expect him to run that well. He has always been a pleasant surprise, though. He is just a very genuine racehorse, and he is kind of a freak."

Westsideclyde, who is now 6, missed all of his 3-year-old season with a tendon injury. When he returned at 4, he did so on the $10,000 maiden level. He has since won 7 of 11 starts, including a pair of stakes. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 for his effort in the FSN.

* Sally Steiner, who operates the Quarter Chute Cafe on the Emerald Downs backstretch with her husband, Joe Steiner, reported that the popular restaurant has entered the Internet age. Steiner said her establishment now has a website listing its complete menu and daily specials. The address is .