01/25/2008 1:00AM

Gold Lad returns to a sprint


PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Meadows will close out Sunday racing at its 2007-08 meet with a nine-race card headed by a six-furlong invitational handicap that has attracted most of the better older sprinters on the grounds. Beginning next week, the track will race Mondays and Tuesdays only through the end of the meeting on March 11.

Gold Lad will concede from three to nine pounds to seven rivals while toting a 123-pound impost in Sunday's feature, which carries a purse of $9,200. Gold Lad, a 7-year-old son of Gold Fever from the barn of trainer Jim Fergason, has 6 wins from 15 career tries at the six-furlong distance, and he ran second to Rockinstomper in the six-furlong Inaugural Handicap on opening day. He is coming off three straight route attempts in which he ran third and first in invitational handicaps before finishing a close second to Brave Hearted in a mile allowance test in his most recent outing on Jan. 15. Joe Crispin, who rode Gold Lad in his last two outings, will again have the mount.

Gold Lad could receive his sternest opposition from Mystic Wood, who has posted two impressive six-furlong allowance wins at the stand. Mystic Wood, a 4-year-old son of Forest Wildcat, is coming off a rare poor effort in a one mile and 70-yard allowance test on Nov. 26, when he was hung wide after failing to make the front and tired badly before being eased. He is returning at a better distance after being freshened and should bounce back with a more typical try.