07/17/2008 11:00PM

Few scared away by Enumclaw Girl

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AUBURN, Wash. - Enumclaw Girl has dominated the 3-year-old filly ranks at this meeting, and she seemed to answer any distance questions with her authoritative 3 1/2-length victory in last month's Irish Day Handicap at a mile.

She has yet to scare away many opponents, however. Eleven fillies were nominated for Sunday's $60,000 Washington's Lottery Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, and all but one or two are expected to run. That doesn't concern trainer Rosie Simkins, who has been focused on bringing Enumclaw Girl into Sunday's stakes at her very best. The trainer seemed satisfied that she has done her job.

"She is ready," said Simkins. "She has worked twice since she raced, and she went a half-mile in 46.60 and five furlongs in 58.40. The works were mainly just to keep her from getting bored, though. She was plenty fit, but she has a tendency to get bored if she doesn't have enough to do. The last couple of days she has really been on tilt, so I know she is anxious to get out there and do her thing."

Enumclaw Girl, a daughter of Katowice and Seattle Seamstress, by Wolf Power, won the Irish Day Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion under Gallyn Mitchell. Simkins doesn't feel she is vulnerable to an early challenge, however.

"That was the first time she has been in front early, and I think she just took the lead because nobody else wanted it," said the trainer. "If somebody else insists on being in front, we know she will settle in and stalk. It will be Gallyn's call. He'll have to judge how the race is shaping up and adjust accordingly.

"Either way, I don't think it will matter to Enumclaw Girl."

Record margin may not tell the whole tale

What do you do with A. Lurie Girl in the Washington's Lottery? On the one hand, she won her route debut by a resounding 19 lengths to establish an Emerald Downs record for winning margin. On the other, she was defeating lowly $5,000 maiden claimers, and her clocking of 1:45.60 for 1 1/16 miles, though decent, was less than stakes-caliber.

"Maybe she doesn't belong in there at all, but we're going to find out," said trainer Bob Meeking. "She is a big, strong horse and she obviously wants to route. I know there is a big difference in the competition she will face on Sunday, but I'm not convinced that any of those stakes fillies really want to go that far. Mine does. It's just a flyer. We'll see what happens."

There is an interesting precedent for what Meeking is attempting. The horse who held the record for winning margin before it was broken by A. Lurie Girl was Ruby Dawn, who graduated by 16 1/4 lengths when going a mile against $6,250 maidens in June 2003. Ruby Dawn came right back to defeat $50,000 optional claimers at a mile in her next start, then capped her 3-year-old campaign with a fourth in the one-mile John and Kitty Fletcher. Though she never won a stakes, Ruby Dawn was stakes-placed five times before retiring in 2006.

Vann Belvoir back after Midwest run

Trainer Vann Belvoir is back at Emerald Downs and will soon be entering horses. Belvoir said he has 10 horses on the grounds and several others at West Coast Training Center, which he recently purchased in partnership with Keith Swaggerty.

"It's the former Colello training center by Flaming Geyser State Park in Green Valley," said Belvoir. "We're excited about running it. I have some horses there now, but they are not ready to race. I have four older horses on the grounds, and they'll be running here soon. The others are 2-year-olds, so it is hard to know when they will be running."

Belvoir had a distinguished career as a rider, winning 1,353 races from 1989 through 1996. In his final year of riding, he was the leading rider at the inaugural Emerald meeting with 148 wins, a total that was not surpassed until Ricky Frazier rode 157 winners last year. Belvoir then pulled off a unique double, as he donned his trainer's cap and won the training title at the track's only winter meeting, in 1996-97.

Belvoir has since campaigned horses across the Midwest, returning to Emerald only once, for the 2003 meeting. He recently saddled his 201st winner as a trainer at Lone Star Park.

"I raced at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, then I bought a farm in Kentucky and raced there, and most recently I bought a farm in Texas and raced there," he said. "I still have the farm in Texas, but my wife and I decided it was time to come home. We have a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, and it is important to us that they grow up near their grandparents."

Vann Belvoir's father, of course, is local trainer Howard Belvoir.

Magna-TVG fee dispute affects Portland track

The Oregon division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has alerted its membership that the 2008-09 Portland Meadows meeting, which is slated to open in October, is in jeopardy owing to a dispute between Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates Portland Meadows, and Television Games Network, which operates an account-wagering hub in the state.

Until recently, TVG had been paying source market fees of 10.5 percent to Magna on wagers by Oregon residents. TVG has informed Magna that it is cutting back its source market fees to approximately 2 percent, which Magna claims would result in a loss of about $250,000 in revenue.

In a letter to the HBPA, Magna said it had been preparing to negotiate a purse contract with horsemen and to open the Portland Meadows backside for training. The company said it is now suspending those plans until its dispute with TVG is resolved.