03/31/2005 1:00AM

Fergason fires two shots in derby


PORTLAND, Ore. - Trainer Jim Fergason could scarcely have a stronger hand in Saturday's $15,000 Oregon Derby at Portland Meadows. Fergason will send out the undefeated Typhoon Aaron to set the fractions as the certain favorite, and will have Preview Stakes winner J. D.'s Date coming from behind to pick up the pieces as the probable second choice in the 1 1/8-mile race.

It is a trainer's job to worry, however, and Fergason wasn't quite the picture of confidence earlier this week.

"Typhoon Aaron hasn't raced since January, and it's not easy to go a mile and an eighth off the bench," Fergason said. "What complicates things even more is that he doesn't like to train. The one time I tried to work him by himself, he went a half-mile in 54.80. It was the slowest half-mile work of the day. Since then I've been working him in company, though, and he has worked much better. I think he'll be fit enough, but you never know until they do it."

One thing Fergason isn't worrying about is the possibility of Typhoon Aaron getting hooked.

"First of all, I doubt if anybody can go with him, because he has so much natural speed," Fergason said. "In his last two races, he got to the front with no effort. If somebody did go with him, though, it might actually help him. He likes company, and he went head and head early in his first two wins. Either way, I don't think it will matter."

Still, J. D.'s Date will serve as a nice insurance policy if Typhoon Aaron should tire.

"He is getting better with each race, and I really liked the way he ran in the Preview," said Fergason. "It didn't look like there was any way he could get there at the quarter pole, but he just kept gaining momentum all the way down the lane. He is actually coming up to this race perfectly, and he should love the distance. "

Jensen likes Indian Colony's chances

Among the most interesting challengers for the Fergason-trained entry is Indian Colony, who will be making just his third career start.

Indian Colony, a leggy son of Cherokee Colony who races for trainer Eric Jensen, ran a green fourth to maiden special weight runners in his 5 1/2-furlong debut here in November. Coming back on March 12, he annihilated $10,000 maidens with a 9 1/4-length victory in 1:07.40 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

"That was the way I expected him to run the first time, but he just didn't know what he was doing that day," said Jensen. "I have always liked this horse, and he is only going to improve with distance."

Jensen knows it is asking a lot of Indian Colony to go nine furlongs off one 5 1/2-furlong prep, but he feels the colt may be something special.

"He's not nearly as good now as he will be a couple of starts down the road, and he is probably going to be a little short," said the trainer. "I worked him a mile, but I wanted to come back and work him another six furlongs. I just ran out of time. Even so, I expect him to get a check, and I won't be surprised if he wins. That's how much I think of him."

Unraced youngsters with promise

Jensen has several other young horses, all unraced, for whom he has high hopes. One is a muscular gray 3-year-old colt by leading sire El Prado out of Mishill, a multiple stakes winner at Portland Meadows and Emerald Downs.

Jensen named the El Prado colt El Steverino, in memory of his deceased brother, Steven Jensen.

"He went three furlongs in 35.40 in his second work," Jensen said. "It was 13 lengths better than the next-fastest work on the tab. I'm really looking forward to running him, but he won't be ready until early in the Emerald Downs meeting."

Another of his prospects is named Big Stan B, in honor of former Portland Meadows racing secretary Stan Blank.

Big Stan B is a rangy son of Breeders' Cup Turf winner Northern Spur out of Flag Collector, by Avenue of Flags.

"Even though he is by Northern Spur, he is going to be quick," said Jensen. "He is a half-brother to Flying Memo, who set a track record at Hastings Park in her first start as a 2-year-old. He is showing a lot of promise, and I hope to have him ready for one of the first 2-year-old maiden special weight races at Emerald."

If his young horses fulfill their promise, Jensen feels he can have his best Emerald Downs meeting since 1998. That year, he won five stakes with Mishill and Ito the Hammer.