06/18/2003 11:00PM

Ema Bovary sidelined with foot injury


AUBURN, Wash. - Ema Bovary will not run in Saturday's King County Handicap for older fillies and mares, nor will she run again at the Emerald Downs meeting.

"She developed an abscess in her foot after we worked her on June 5," said trainer Sharon Ross, whose husband, Larry Ross, trained Ema Bovary in California. "We've been soaking her foot every day, and it is much better now, but we don't want to risk turning the abscess into a quarter crack. We were going to turn her out after this race anyway.

"It was always our plan to give her the summer off and let her grow, then bring her back for a fall campaign in northern California. Now we're just going to turn her out one race earlier than we planned. It's really no big deal, but I'm disappointed we didn't get to try her at a mile. I was looking forward to running her once more."

Ema Bovary has shown her ability to the fans at Emerald. In just two starts, in the Hastings Park and Washington State Legislators handicaps, both at 6 1/2 furlongs, the 4-year-old proved to be the most exciting performer on the grounds. Displaying a flair for the dramatic, Ema Bovary broke slowly in both of her local starts, then blew away her opposition with breathtaking acceleration.

"She has a gear that most horses just don't possess," Sharon Ross said. "And I suspect she has another gear that she hasn't even shown us yet. She is really only 3, because she was born in October. If we are patient with her and let her develop at her own pace, she could be something really special."

Princess Forever set for King County

Not everybody is sorry to see Ema Bovary go on vacation. Trainer Bill Tollett and his son and assistant, David, had seen about all they wanted to see of the filly. Though the Tollett-trained Princess Forever had finished second to Ema Bovary in the Washington State Legislators, it was a distant second. They entered Princess Forever in an optional claiming race last Sunday with the intention of ducking Ema Bovary, but scratched her when they learned Ema Bovary wouldn't run in the one-mile King County.

"It changed our whole perspective on the race when we heard Ema Bovary wouldn't go," Bill Tollett said. "Of course that was why we scratched. Without Ema Bovary in the King County, everybody has a shot. We probably have as good a shot as anyone.

"A mile is probably at the far end of Princess Forever's range, but she broke her maiden going long here last season. She didn't run well going long last winter at Turf Paradise, but she was on the downside of her form cycle at that time. She has done really well since we moved her here, and I expect her to run big again on Saturday."

Untamed Passion still question mark

If there is a horse in the King County with the potential to take over Ema Bovary's dominant role in the filly and mare division, it is probably Untamed Passion, who showed enough in her one overpowering effort last year to raise expectations. Whether those expectations will ever be met is an open question.

Since scoring a four-length win in her debut last August, when she went 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.80, Untamed Passion has been entered in three races. In the first she acted up in the paddock and was scratched. In the second she acted up in the gate and was scratched. And in the most recent, an allow-ance race on May 11, she broke so far behind her field that she was effectively eliminated.

"We've schooled her in the paddock and at the gate so many times that I couldn't count them," trainer Bob McMeans said. "The thing is, though, she is always good in the mornings. She has never seemed like a problem filly.

"She is a little hyper, though, and she doesn't like to be handled very much. I think that if we can get her into the gate with a minimum of handling, she will be fine. She really does give me the impression that she has exceptional talent. She is bred to be a nice horse, and trains like a nice horse. I just hope she gets a chance to show what she can do."

Untamed Passion is a 4-year-old daughter of Blue Grass Stakes winner Pulpit and Lotta Dancing, a graded stakes winner of $358,201. Lotta Dancing, who is by Alydar, is a half-sister to Mambo Twist, a winner of more than $1.5 million in Japan, and Lotta Dancing's dam, Kennelot, is a half-sister to several important stakes winners, including 1974 Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade. Owner Jerre Paxton purchased the Kentucky-bred Untamed Passion at Keeneland as a yearling for $200,000.