10/14/2004 11:00PM

Expect quick pace in feature


PORTLAND, Ore. - An evenly matched field of seven 3-year-olds and up will compete in Sunday's Portland Meadows feature, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race for non-winners-of-three races.

Though favoritism is up for grabs, the horse to catch would appear to be Ill Naab the Win, a 3-year-old son of Alnaab trained by Bonnie Jenne. Ill Naab the Win has had the early lead in all but one of his seven starts, and has twice held the advantage to the wire. He scored his maiden win by three lengths at Bay Meadows in May, and defeated $7,500 company at Emerald Downs in July. Interestingly, those two wins came in his only two tries at Sunday's 5 1/2-furlong distance.

Ill Naab the Win isn't the only member of the field with keen speed, however. Primecat has led in all seven of his starts against Thoroughbreds, and his four wins include a pair of stakes victories at Grants Pass. Primecat, a 3-year-old trained by Mark Garrison, is also a 5 1/2-furlong specialist, having three wins and a second in four tries at the distance.

Others who are accustomed to setting or pressing the pace are Galactic Fire and Freedom Fair, who is coming off two races against much tougher at Emerald.

Should the speedsters duel too hard on the lead, the door could open for last season's Oregon Derby winner, Santiam Top Jazz. Though he has no early speed and prefers more ground, Santiam Top Jazz always finishes with gusto, and may find his opponents coming back to him in the stretch.