08/29/2003 12:00AM

Forster's star rising


AUBURN, Wash. - Twenty-nine-year-old trainer Grant Forster, who officially launched his career in January, enjoyed his best success yet last weekend when he went 4-2-1 from 10 starters. His success included a win with Youcan'ttakeme in the $100,000 Washington Oaks and a one-two finish with Infernal McGoon and Tamarack Bay in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff.

"That's going to be hard to top, because there just aren't that many hundred-granders in this area," he said. "But there are a couple of nice purses up for grabs again this weekend, and I'll be happy if we can win either of them."

Forster will saddle the probable favorite, Sala de Oro, in Sunday's $70,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at one mile, and he feels he has a live longshot in Run Max Run for Monday's $125,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs.

Sala de Oro, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Expelled who races for Dave Mowat's Ten Broeck Farm Inc., has won 2 of 4 starts and is coming off an impressive 2 1/4-length victory in a 6 1/2-furlong race for optional $50,000 claimers on Aug. 16.

"She'll be making her first start at a mile, but she finished strong at 6 1/2 furlongs and I thought that was encouraging," Forster said. "I've been giving her lots of long, strong gallops to get as much air into her as I can, so I think she is ready to show her stuff."

With only five career starts, including two wins from three starts last year at 2, Run Max Run will be the least experienced member of Monday's derby field, but he may among the most talented. Run Max Run, a son of Cherokee Run who races for Sandee Kirkwood, won his 3-year-old debut over $50,000 optional claiming company, completing 6 1/2 furlongs in a quick 1:15.20, but tired to finish seventh when entered back in the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap on Aug. 10.

"It was his first time going long and he had only had one sprint prep, so I wasn't shocked that he made a middle move and tired," Forster said. "The track was muddy that day, too, and he didn't seem to handle it well. He just ran in spots. It was only one race, and I'm inclined to excuse it.

"He came back and worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Thursday and he seems to be doing really well, so I think he deserves another shot. He is out of a Regal Classic mare, so he really shouldn't have a problem getting a middle distance. It's just a question of whether he is good enough."

Condotierri needs more pace

The derby favorite will likely be Condotierri, who won the 1 1/16-mile Tacoma Handicap with a withering stretch run but finished third as the favorite in the Seattle Slew. Condotierri raced well off a dawdling pace of 47.40 seconds for a half-mile and 1:11.40 for six furlongs, then closed to be beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Stratoplan and Knightsbridge Road.

"I hope we'll get a little more pace to run at in the derby, but I don't know who would provide it," said trainer Craig Roberts, who owns Condotierri in partnership with Bob and Judy Pavalunas and Keith Redd. "We're meeting essentially the same group.

"I do feel that pace isn't quite as important as the distances get longer, and I feel that Condotierri is a true 1 1/8-mile horse. It will also help that everybody carries 122 pounds in the derby, because he had to concede weight to everybody in the Seattle Slew. He really is doing well now, so I feel pretty good about his chances."

Twins embark on new career

One of the two sets of twins who began training at Emerald this spring has been retired. Jillybell and Young Jack, the 3-year-old half-sister and half-brother to 2002 Longacres Mile winner Sabertooth, are heading for new careers as pleasure horses after failing to hit the board against bottom-level maidens in two starts apiece.

"They had a lot of desire and they did everything right, but they just didn't have the ability to be racehorses on this level," said Kay Cooper, assistant to trainer Jim Penney. "It didn't make sense to go on with them."

The other set of twins, 2-year-old fillies One for You and And One for Me, still have a chance to make it at the track. And One for Me, who has not started, has been turned out to grow and will be tried again next year. One for You, who has started once against maiden special weight company, is back in training after being sidelined with sore shins.

"She is back up to working five furlongs now, so she should start again before the meeting ends," said David Tollett, assistant to trainer Bill Tollett. "She led to the quarter pole in her first race, then she blew her shins. She is a normal-sized filly and we think she has ability."