03/20/2004 12:00AM

Filly takes drop down to $5K level


PORTLAND, Ore. - Roada Ghost looms as the one to beat in Monday's best race at Portland Meadows, a six-furlong event for fillies and mares eligible to be claimed for $5,000 to $4,000.

Roada Ghost, a 4-year-old half-sister to stakes star Wegota Slewzy, comes off a sharp second-place finish to Lasting Kiss at six furlongs for a $6,250 claiming price on March 6. Earlier in the meet, the Jim Fergason-trained Roada Ghost ran second to stablemate Back Street Gal in an $8,000 claiming race at six furlongs. She won a pair of allowance races here last season and has never been as low as $5,000 on the claiming ladder before.

Roada Ghost will take on a half-dozen rivals in Monday's headliner, including recent winner Maria Kay, a Fred Hepton-trained 3-year-old who comes off a 6 3/4-length score over restricted $5,000 company at 4 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 13. Maria Kay has excellent early speed and may deny Roada Ghost her preferred position on the lead.

Also dangerous is Abstract Image, a winner of 10 career races, including last summer's 5 1/2-furlong Southern Belle Stakes at Grants Pass. Abstract Image prepped for Monday's engagement with a creditable fourth to $5,000 rivals at a mile on Feb. 7.

* Jerry Kohls, the director of racing at Portland Meadows, said that the $10,000 Governor's Speed Handicap, called off Saturday after only four horses entered, has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 27. Kohls said the six-furlong race for older horses is expected to draw a fifth entrant this time around. The Governor's Speed will share the spotlight on Saturday's card with the Mt. St. Helens Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile.