08/25/2005 12:00AM

Favorite goes after fifth straight


AUBURN, Wash. - Itstufftobe-good will carry a steadying 126 pounds when he shoots for his fifth straight win in Saturday's third leg of the Harley H. Hoppe and Associates Marathon Champion Series, which will be run under $10,000 starter handicap conditions at 1 1/2 miles.

Itstufftobegood, trained by Neil Knapp, has gotten all four of his recent wins under $10,000 starter allowance or starter handicap conditions. The most recent came in the Aug. 5 second leg of the marathon series, a 1 1/4-mile race that he won by 3 1/4 lengths under 124 pounds. Though he adds weight and distance, he looks like a strong favorite against six rivals on Sunday. Leading rider Kevin Krigger again has the mount.

The opposition includes Mister Doeny, who won the initial, 1 1/8-mile leg of the marathon series; Exceptional Game, who ran second behind Itstufftobegood on Aug. 5; Watershed Park, who was just another neck back in third; and Horatio.

Horatio won the two-mile finale in last year's marathon series in a track record 3:22.60. Horatio has raced just twice at the meeting, finishing sixth among $25,000 optional claimers and fifth with $25,000 starter allowance rivals at a mile. The stretch-running Horatio improves dramatically with distance, however, and should be formidable under Debbie Hoonan at 116 pounds.

Watershed Park is the only filly or mare in the race. She carries 109 pounds, with Ben Russell to ride.