08/04/2008 11:00PM

Fear No Evil defies the odds


AUBURN, Wash. - Fear No Evil has had his doubters this season, and we're not talking about a scattered few.

Fear No Evil, a 3-year-old son of Trust N Luck who races for Chris and Dianna Randall, was 9-1 when he won the six-furlong Auburn Stakes in his seasonal debut and he was still 9-1 when he made his second start of the year in the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi Cola. The front-running Fear No Evil broke slowly that day and wound up sixth, so his odds doubled to 18-1 for the one-mile Tacoma Handicap, which he lost by only a neck to the favored Gallon. Fear No Evil wasn't even favored against allowance company in his one-mile prep for last Sunday's Seattle Slew Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, but he won that race by more than four lengths in 1:36.40.

Despite that impressive win, Fear No Evil was regarded as no better than the 4-1 third choice in a field of seven for the $60,000 Seattle Slew. Nonetheless, Fear No Evil went to the front and never yielded, winning by a length over California invader Reel Prime in a very legitimate 1:42.

Trainer Frank Lucarelli might have used his post-race press conference to chastise fans for being slow to recognize his horse's ability, but Lucarelli felt he didn't have much room to talk.

"I entered him for $40,000, even after he won that first stakes," the trainer admitted. "I'm just glad those races didn't fill, because that forced me to keep him in the stakes ranks. I just never thought he was that great a horse, but he has proven out to be a pretty good horse. Gallon proved himself in California and Margo's Gift proved himself at the Breeders' Cup, and he has beaten both of those horses more than once. I guess I'm going to have to start believing in him."

Fear No Evil was ridden by the state's all-time leading stakes rider, Gary Baze, who proved he is still a master of pace at the age of 53. Baze asked Fear No Evil to go just fast enough to maintain a length advantage over Anotation, who tried in vain to apply significant pressure.

"He did a really nice job," Lucarelli said. "The fractions were pretty legitimate, but fast fractions don't bother me as much as pressure. I'd rather see the rider let my horse out another notch to avoid pressure, and that was what Gary did."

Time and money pays off with Knight's Secret

Knight's Secret made it all seem worthwhile in Saturday's six-furlong feature for older $40,000 claimers. The two years of nursing him back to health after he tore a tendon in 2005, the year of recovery after he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip last year, and all the worry and expense that owner Leonard Strandley Jr. endured to see him run at least one more time.

The 6-year-old Knight's Secret held on under rider Debbie Hoonan to win the feature by a diminishing neck, improving his record to 3 wins from 5 starts over four years. Hoonan teared up in the winner's circle, Strandley grinned from ear to ear, and trainer Sharon Ross was still floating on air the next morning.

"That was the first race in a long time that, when he crossed the finish line, I thought I was going to faint," Ross said. "The owner has been so patient and he has invested so much time and money with the hope of seeing this horse race again. I kept telling him it wasn't worth it, but I guess it was. It was just very gratifying for all of us to see him win."

How did the fragile speedster come out of his race?

"Knock on wood, so far he seems fine," Ross said.

29 horses nominated for Longacres Mile

Perfect Drift, a Grade 1 stakes winner of more than $4.7 million, heads a list of 29 handicap horses nominated for the 73rd running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 17.

Perfect Drift, a 9-year-old, is one of two nominees from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who also nominated the Herman Sarkowsky-owned 5-year-old One Union. Mandella won the Mile in 1978 with Bad 'N Big, while Sarkowsky won the 2005 renewal with No Giveaway.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the 2004 Mile with Adreamisborn, tied with trainer Mike Chambers for most nominees with four apiece, while Terry Jordan nominated three. Among Jordan's nominees is multiple Grade 3 winner True Metropolitan, who won Canada's Sovereign Award for best older horse in each of the past two years.

This year's Mile is a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race, which guarantees the winner a slot in the gate for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

The Mile is limited to 12 starters, with highweights preferred. Weights will be announced Saturday.

Call On Carson wins prep for Mile

Call On Carson got his final Mile prep in a modest $25,000 starter allowance race Sunday, which he won by 4 3/4 easy lengths in 1:15 for 6 1/2 furlongs as the 2-5 favorite.

"I wasn't planning on running him again before the Mile, but that race popped up in the book and I couldn't resist," trainer Dan Markle said. "It should set him up perfectly for the Mile."

* Apprentice jockey Matt Hagerty has been suspended for two days, Aug. 14 and 15, for causing interference aboard Pavan Raj in the eighth race Thursday.

* Catalogs are now available for the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's annual summer yearling sale, which will be held Sept. 2 in the M.J. Alhaddeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Emerald Downs. A total of 215 yearlings have been cataloged.