08/02/2004 11:00PM

Flamethrowintexan gets distance

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AUBURN, Wash. - It's one down and one to go for Flamethrowintexan.

Owner Paul Heist said he claimed Flamethrowintexan for a hefty $62,500 in June at Hollywood Park with two goals in mind. The first was to win last Saturday's $65,000 Seattle Slew Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, and the other was to win the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby at 1 1/8 miles Sept. 6.

Flamethrowintexan accomplished the first goal in a manner that suggested the second is within his range.

A confirmed front-runner who had won five of eight sprints by leading throughout, Flamethrowintexan made his task Saturday infinitely tougher by hopping at the start to lose about two lengths after breaking from the rail post. That forced jockey Ricky Frazier to ask his mount to expend precious energy to lead by a length through an initial quarter-mile in 23 seconds. Nevertheless, Flamethrowintexan turned back multiple challenges on the second turn to open a two-length advantage with a furlong to run, then withstood the late charge of Pure American to prevail by a length in 1:42.80. Soccer Dan came on late for third.

"He's basically a very good gate horse, so I was surprised and concerned when he broke the way he did," said trainer Jim Penney. "I was impressed that he was able to recover so quickly and finish as well as he did going 1 1/16 miles. It makes me think he can probably go a little farther if he breaks the way he usually does."

Penney gave credit to Bryson Cooper, his son-in-law and chief exercise rider, with helping Heist find Flamethrowintexan.

"Bryson bought Daily Racing Forms for tracks all over the country, studied films, and made many phone calls," said Penney. "This is the one he came up with."

Flamethrowintexan showed brilliant form, but he had not won beyond seven furlongs, and his pedigree leaned toward sprinting. The average winning distance of his sire's progeny is just 6.3 furlongs, according to Daily Racing Form statistics, and his dam and her nine siblings to race combined for 43 wins, all but one in sprints. In other words, his success at route distances wasn't guaranteed.

"We just thought that any horse who tries as hard as he does and wins as often as he does would probably go a little farther, especially if we worked with him to get him to relax," said Penney. "Bryson did a good job with him in the mornings, and it all worked out. Maybe he's not so much a true route horse as he is a miler, but he is very competitive. He's a winner."

Penney admitted he had a plan B in case Flamethrowintexan didn't get the Seattle Slew distance.

"I told Paul I thought the horse was a good investment because we could always send him back to California and sprint him if he didn't want to route," said Penney. "Paul is a very game owner, and he decided to take a chance on him."

After the Seattle Slew, plan B is not needed.

Queenledo wins with cleaner trip

Queenledo not only won Sunday's $45,000 Knights Choice Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs, she made the victory stick.

A daughter of Slewdledo and Tenderness, Queenledo had run a bang-up second to Charming Colleen in last month's Angie C. Stakes at six furlongs, but she was disqualified and placed seventh for cutting off a rival in the stretch. There were no such incidents Sunday, when Queenledo stalked the pace from the inside through a fast half-mile in 44.80, then swung to the outside and wore down a game Nu Rays Arabella to prevail by a length in 1:18.40.

"She's just a little professional," said rider Kevin Krigger, who won four races on Sunday's card. "Wherever you point her, she goes."

Three of Krigger's wins Sunday came aboard horses trained by Tim McCanna, and that trio included Queenledo. Krigger and McCanna have combined for 14 wins from 48 starts at this meeting, with most of their success coming in the last month.

"Kevin rode for me in California, so I was glad to see him come up here," said McCanna. "He's just a really good kid, and he is a natural rider. I don't think he has a nerve in his body, because nothing seems to bother him."

Queenledo races for Kings and Queens Stable, a partnership that includes McCanna's father-in-law, Harold Krupke, who is listed as her breeder.

"I used to train her dam, Tenderness, and she won a bunch of races for me back in the late 1980's and early 1990's," said McCanna. "I saw her going through a sale a few years back and remembered her, so I bought her for $500. I gave her to my father-in-law and he bred her to Slewdledo, and this filly is the result."

McCanna's win barrage pushed him to a narrow lead in his quest for a fifth straight training title. Through Sunday's racing, McCanna had 35 wins to 32 for both Frank Lucarelli and Jim Penney. Sharon Ross was just one win farther back in fourth.