05/21/2001 12:00AM

Fleet Pacific showed champion's grit in Hastings Cap


AUBURN, Wash. - Fleet Pacific displayed the courage of a champion in winning last Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong, $35,000 Hastings Park Handicap at Emerald Downs.

And well she should, as Fleet Pacific was voted the top filly or mare of last year's Emerald Downs meet after winning the final four stakes in her division.

Fleet Pacific had a lot of factors against her in the Hastings Park. She was making her first start off an eight-month layoff, and she didn't begin winning last season until her fifth start. She is now 7, and might have been expected to have lost a step. And she faced a fierce battle on the lead from Run a Copy, a dead-fit 4-year-old who was coming off a front-running win in the six-furlong Ropersandwranglers Stakes on opening day. Consequently, Run a Copy was made a slight favorite over Fleet Pacific at 2-1.

The pace duel developed as expected. Fleet Pacific broke on top as usual, but Run a Copy rushed up to join her on the inside within a few strides, and those two went at it through a quarter-mile in 21.80 seconds and a half-mile in 44.60 over a decidedly dull surface.

Run a Copy cracked approaching the three-sixteenths marker, but Fleet Pacific was only momentarily left alone on the lead, as Miss Pixie, who enjoyed a perfect stalking trip under Nate Chaves, moved boldly to join the leader with a furlong to go. Miss Pixie appeared to have Fleet Pacific measured, but she dug back in to prevail by a neck in 1:16.40.

"Miss Pixie might have gotten a nose on us at the sixteenth pole, but Fleet was so determined," said rider Gallyn Mitchell. "She just said, 'No you don't, not today.' "

Trainer Steve Bullock credited Fleet Pacific's owners, Mike and Marie Bradley, for giving him all the time he needed to get their mare ready to win at first asking.

"I told Mike she wasn't ready for the Ropersandwranglers, so he said to skip it and get her ready for the next one," said Bullock. "I put three more works into her, and that was all it took.

"I told Gallyn not to back off Run a Copy," he added. "I told him to eyeball that filly and see what she's got."

Considering what happened to Run a Copy, who finished last, it might be a long time before anyone else attempts to hook Fleet Pacific, who has already amassed $246,558 in earnings from 13 wins, including seven stakes, at Emerald Downs.

Her earnings at Emerald are topped only by the $322,350 banked by Kid Katabatic, and her stakes wins are second only to the nine registered by Ropersandwranglers. Her total of victories at Emerald put her in a tie for first with Kimo's Friend.

By season's end, it's a good bet that Fleet Pacific will be alone atop all three lists.

Cold Derby superfecta pick - two times

Art McFadden, who owns The Rialto offtrack betting facility in Portland, Ore., said that one of his patrons hit the Kentucky Derby superfecta with just one combination matching Monarchos, Invisible Ink, Congaree, and Thunder Blitz in order.

The woman made only one mistake in her wagering strategy. She thought the superfecta was a $2 bet, so she collected the $1 payoff of $62,986.90 twice.

Portland Meadows closes as training center

Trainers at Portland Meadows, which has been operating as a training center since its meet ended April 29, were told they must have their horses off the grounds by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15.

The track's new operator, Magna Entertainment Corp., ordered the evacuation after being informed by the Environmental Protection Agency that the track is still in violation of the Clean Water Act and is subject to fines of $25,000 per day.

Magna intends to be in compliance with the pollution standards before Portland Meadows opens its 2001-02 meeting Oct. 18.