04/16/2008 12:00AM

Former stablemates together again


AUBURN, Wash. - Pirates Deputy and Wild Cycle, who were stablemates and fierce rivals as 2-year-olds in 2006 at Emerald Downs, will resume those roles this season as older horses.

"We're planning on running both of them in the first stakes here on May 4," said trainer Aubrey Villyard, referring to the six-furlong Seattle Handicap. "I hate to run them against each other, but it worked out pretty well when they were 2-year-olds."

Pirates Deputy and Wild Cycle ran one-two in the two most important stakes for juveniles at the 2006 meeting, with Wild Cycle defeating his stablemate in the $60,000 WTBA Lads Stakes at a mile and Pirates Deputy turning the tables in the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles.

Shortly after the Gottstein, Pirates Deputy, who was owned by Villyard's wife, Sue, was sold to clients of Southern California trainer Bob Baffert as a potential Kentucky Derby horse. He quickly earned back his purchase price by running second in both the $125,000 Cal Cup Juvenile and the $1 million Delta Jackpot, then winning the $141,000 California Breeders Championship in his final start at 2. His Derby dreams ended after he went unplaced in his first two starts last year, however, and he ended his 3-year-old campaign with no placings to show for six starts.

Because he no longer seemed a legitimate graded stakes competitor, the Villyards were able to buy back Pirates Deputy in October for just a fraction of his sale price a year earlier. He didn't arrive home in the same condition he left, however.

"We couldn't get him out of his stall," said Villyard. "He was body sore and he had abscesses in all four feet. We just treated the abscesses and turned him out."

Wild Cycle, who races for owner Frank Gaunt, was also turned out in October after a five-race Emerald Downs campaign that netted a win in the $45,000 Tacoma Handicap at a mile and three stakes placings. Both returned to training here in February.

"They have both come back really well," said Villyard. "Pirates Deputy is all healed up now, and I can't see any reason why he couldn't be as good as ever. Wild Cycle has also been training very well, so I am really happy with both of them. I'm looking forward to running them, even if I have to run them against each other."

Villyard, incidentally, had an even tougher 2007 than Pirates Deputy. He battled and defeated both leukemia and pneumonia, only to be found to have lung cancer. Sue Villyard took over the lion's share of the stable's training responsibility last year, and she will continue to take a leading role until Aubrey completes his latest round of treatments."

"I've had a real triple whammy thrown at me, and it has been just as tough for Sue as it has been for me," said Villyard. "We'll get through it, though. We have to. We've got horses to train."

The Great Face back in training

Trainer Tom Wenzel reported that The Great Face, who was named horse of the meeting here last season after winning four races, including the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, arrived back at the track on Monday to resume training. The Great Face, a 6-year-old son of Cahill Road who races for Ron Crockett, was sidelined shortly after his Mile win with a strain to his accessory carpal tendon sheath.

"We gave him three months of stall rest, then he had a month and a half of exercise at Carnation training farm," said Wenzel. "He came in pretty fit, so if everything goes well he'll breeze in early to mid-May and he'll race sometime this summer. He trains hard, so it won't take him long to come around once he starts working. I'm just going to be very cautious with him until I know he is 100 percent. If I see anything I don't like, I'll back right off and make a new plan."

High hopes for Chilean import Creme

Trainers Larry and Sharon Ross and owner Rick Beal are trying to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time. They did so in 2003 with Chilean import Ema Bovary, who won 10 of 12 starts in the United States, including stakes at Golden Gate, Emerald, Santa Anita, Keeneland, and Calder, for roughly $700,000 in earnings before being retired in 2004.

Their latest Chilean import is Creme, a 4-year-old filly by the Danzig stallion Somersham who is currently in training at Emerald with Sharon Ross.

"Larry is going to be her trainer, though," said Sharon. "I'm just doing what he tells me to do with her, and that won't be much for a while. She is a Southern Hemisphere horse, so she won't really be 4 until September but she'll have to race against older fillies and mares in this country. It makes sense to go slow with her. She probably won't race until later in the summer."

In her only start in her native land last October, Creme defeated a field of 14 maiden special weight runners by eight widening lengths after six furlongs in 1:12.60.

"Christian Abhamor, the same guy who found Ema Bovary for us, sent us a tape of her race and we were all very impressed," said Sharon Ross. "Rick bought her late last year and she was quarantined in Florida in January, then she was at a farm in California until she came to me last week. Who knows how she'll run, but I like her a lot. She's a good-looking filly and she acts real classy. We all have high hopes for her."

* Apprentice Luis Torres, who was named on three horses on Friday's opening-day card, is coming off a career day last Saturday at Sun Downs in Kennewick, Wash. Torres posted 7 wins and 2 seconds on the 10-race card, including 4 wins for trainer Jerry Hollifield.

* Agent Boone McCanna said that Seth Martinez, who is atop the rider standings at Turf Paradise, will shift his tack to Emerald after the Phoenix meeting ends on May 4. McCanna said Martinez will take mounts here beginning May 9.