01/03/2004 12:00AM

Frigidon in top form for mile race


PORTLAND, Ore. - An evenly matched field of 10 older runners will clash at a mile in the top offering at Portland Meadows on Monday, a $2,500 claiming affair for horses who have never won two races.

None of the entrants are coming off wins, but Frigidon and Western Ruler ran second in their most recent outings and may be favored.

Frigidon, a 5-year-old son of Phoenician from the barn of Eulia Bischoff, closed smartly to get within 1 1/4 lengths of Peter Spats when racing six furlongs for a $5,000 tag Dec. 27. Though he has not fared well in his previous route tries, Frigidon appears to be coming into Monday's engagement in peak form. Victor Mercado retains the mount at 121 pounds.

Western Ruler is proven at a route, having collected his maiden win going 1 1/16 miles at Hastings in August. Western Ruler, a

4-year-old trained by Jim Keen, returned to form last time out on Dec. 22, when he got up for second behind General Bull in a mile race for $4,000 claimers. Joe Crispin takes over the mount at 120 pounds.

Also proven at a mile is Nearandfar, who led throughout to post his maiden win at a mile over $4,000 company here in November. He was used up chasing a quick pace in his first start against winners on Dec. 13, a six-furlong affair for $5,000 claimers, but he will be returning to his best distance while cutting the asking price in half on Monday and could bounce back. Leading rider Juan Gutierrez has the call for trainer Jonathan Nance at 123 pounds.