01/28/2004 12:00AM

At this farm, white horses not so rare


PORTLAND, Ore. - White Thoroughbreds are prized not only for their beauty, but for their extreme rarity.

In that respect, breeder Dalene Knight, who operates Painted Desert Farm in Redmond, Ore., along with partner Don Irvine, may be too successful for her own good.

Consider that before 1999 only nine Thoroughbreds had been registered as white with The Jockey Club. There have now been 25 white Thoroughbreds, and Knight has registered no fewer than 13 of them. She feels confident that another, who was born at Painted Desert Farm on Jan. 7, will be accepted as her 14th white Thoroughbred.

"There is no question she is white," Knight said. "She is a big, good-looking white filly. I've already sent in a live foal report for her, so she has a name. We're calling her Snow Robin."

Snow Robin is out of Snow Baby Go, who was one of three white Thoroughbreds bred by Knight in 1999. The others were Arctic White, who raced once at Emerald Downs and now stands at stud in California, and Silver Mystique, who sold as a weanling at the Fasig-Tipton fall sale in Kentucky for $85,000. All three of those horses, as well as her next 10 white Thoroughbreds, were by Knight's Naevus stallion, Airdrie Apache, whose dam, Not Quite White, was the ninth Thoroughbred to be registered as white.

Snow Robin, however, is the first Oregon foal of Rob 'n Gin, who is the breeder's newest stallion. Rob 'n Gin, who earned $989,178 as a racehorse, is by Farma Way out of Windy Mindy, by Honey Jay.

"He is a dark brown or bay, but his genetics are such that I thought he could produce colorful horses if I bred him to the right mares," said Knight. "I never expected that his very first Oregon foal would be white, though. That was quite a surprise."

Rob 'n Gin stood in New York before coming to Oregon and has 2-year-olds in that state. His importation is part of Knight's effort to produce better, and not just more colorful, racehorses at her farm. She has also upgraded her broodmare band, and in that regard scored a coup when she purchased the Carson City mare Cucina Cucina at the 2002 Keeneland September sale for only $5,500.

Since then, Cucina Cucina's first foal, Hosco, has won all three of his starts, including the Grade 3 San Miguel Stakes as a 3-year-old at Santa Anita on Jan. 11.

Odd pair in training at Portland Meadows

Two of Knight's unusually colored Thoroughbreds, both 3-year-old colts, are in training at Portland Meadows with trainer Nick Lowe. They are Allamystique, a white full brother to Silver Mystic, and Aladdin Dancer, a black-and-white horse who is registered as a Paint as well as a Thoroughbred.

"We really like the white one," said Lowe's assistant, Debbie Heasley. "He is very sweet-tempered for a stud horse, and he has become a favorite around the barn. We call him Snowflake. He is big and nicely built, and we think he has some talent."

Heasley said she and Lowe are withholding judgment on Aladdin Dancer, whom they have nicknamed Blue.

"He has only worked a quarter-mile, so we don't really know what we've got yet," she said. "He's a bit of a goofball, but he's neat-looking. I've never seen a Thoroughbred who looked like him."

Lowe said Allamystique has worked three furlongs from the gate and should start at the current meeting. He wasn't sure whether Aladdin Dancer would start here.

Yesss clearly best in William Kyne

Yesss was much the best in Saturday's William Kyne Handicap at nine furlongs, and he had to be in order to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths over Mt. Vista after hopping in the air at the start to get away last in the field of seven.

"We wanted to make it interesting," joked rider Twyla Beckner. "Really, I was never worried. My only concern was that he would lose interest being so far behind, so I let him roll when we got clear on the backstretch. I always had a lot of horse under me."

Yesss, who carried high weight of 123 pounds, won the Kyne for the third straight year. It was the seventh local stakes win for the 6-year-old Yesss, who has won 12 of 35 starts for earnings of just over $80,000.

Owner and trainer Delmer Webb said Yesss will be pointed toward the $40,000 Portland Meadows Mile on April 10.