Updated on 09/16/2011 7:21AM

Fillies go at it again

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AUBURN, Wash. - Sunday's $45,000 Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs will provide the setting for round two of what figures to be a lengthy series of confrontations between Lasting Code and Strong Credentials, who currently rank as the top two 3-year-old fillies in the Northwest.

Lasting Code, who makes her home in trainer Steve Henson's barn at Hastings Park, won round one under a flawless ride by jockey Chris Loseth in the six-furlong U. S. Bank Stakes here on opening weekend. Lasting Code, a strapping daughter of Lost Code, stalked the pace as Strong Credentials and Ippodamia dueled through a rapid half-mile in 44 seconds flat, then powered by in the stretch to score in 1:08.80 by nearly two lengths over Strong Credentials, who just held second over the fast-finishing Double Quack.

Lasting Code, who stays in Jim Penney's barn with Penney's assistant, Kay Cooper, when at Emerald, returned home after the U. S. Bank Stakes and worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.20 last Saturday. She was scheduled to ship here on Thursday afternoon to prepare for her rematch with Strong Credentials.

"Chris Loseth will come down and gallop her Friday morning, then I'll blow her out on Saturday, and she should be set," reported exercise rider Bryson Cooper. "They say she is ready to run another big race."

Lasting Code will need to be at her best to repeat, as there are reasons to believe Strong Credentials will be more formidable in her second start of the year.

Strong Credentials, a homebred daughter of Carson City who races for Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms, didn't follow the script that her trainer, Bob McMeans, had in mind for her seasonal debut.

"I really didn't want her up on the pace in that race, but she was way too fresh and she got wound up in the paddock," said the trainer. "Then she was restless in the starting gate, and she hit the side of the gate with her head and laid the corner of her mouth open, and that made her hard to ride.

"When the rider tried to take hold of her, it hurt her mouth and made her try to get out, so he just had to let her go.

"Considering everything that happened, I think she ran pretty well. We just need to get her to settle down a little for this race. We've schooled her in the paddock and at the gate, and she has worked five furlongs twice.

"She shouldn't be so fresh this time, and we're hoping that will make a difference."

Miss Ballard looks sharp

At least one filly will make her stakes debut in the Federal Way, and she could have a big say in the outcome. Miss Ballard, a Bertrando filly trained by Dave Forster for owner Herman Sarkowsky, could scarcely have been more impressive in the first start of her career here on April 21. Despite breaking at least two lengths slowly from the rail post, Miss Ballard came on to defeat maiden special weight company by a widening 4 1/4 lengths in 1:03.40 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

"I was impressed by the way she ran," said Forster. "I always thought she had talent, but I don't like to push them too hard before their first start.

I was really only hoping that she would have a good experience, but she won easy, and she did it pretty much on her own. She is bred to be a nice horse, though, and I think she will be a nice horse. I would expect that she'll go on and handle a route of ground, but we'll take it one step at a time."

* Trainer Charles Essex reported that Handy N Bold is back on track for an engagement in the 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Net Handicap on May 19 after disappointing as the favorite in the Seattle Handicap two weeks ago. Essex said Handy N Bold, a nine-time stakes winner, came out of the Seattle a little body-sore after being bumped repeatedly while dueling on the lead with Sabertooth, but has recovered fully.

* Jockey Oscar Mancilla, who suffered a hairline fracture of his collarbone in a paddock mishap last Friday, could be back riding in just two weeks, agent Rich Monaco said. The initial prognosis was that Mancilla would miss from four to eight weeks, but the injury was not as severe as originally suspected.