01/11/2008 12:00AM

Hard-to-handle pair need tender loving care

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Most horses thrive amid the hustle and bustle of large barns, but some need the special attention that only a small outfit can provide. Lady's Purse and Charlie's Pride, both winners last weekend at Portland Meadows, fall into the latter category.

Lady's Purse, who notched her fourth win from seven starts in an invitational handicap for 3-year-old fillies on Monday, is a volatile individual, according to trainer G.D. Khalsa.

"Her exercise rider calls her 'Smoking Around Ether,' and that about sums her up," said Khalsa. "She is liable to blow up at any time. She doesn't like to be touched, and she has to have everything done her own way. She can be really dangerous, so you have to handle her with kid gloves."

Fortunately, Lady's Purse undergoes something of a transformation on race days.

"The challenge is to get her to the paddock in one piece," said Khalsa. "Once she is in the paddock she's pretty good, and when she steps out on the track she is all business. Sometimes I wish she would relax a little better, but other than that she hasn't made a single mistake in any of her races."

Lady's Purse, a daughter of Bagshot, certainly didn't make any mistakes on Monday. She stalked the pace of Ochoco Flame through a quarter-mile in 22.60 seconds, slipped through along the inside when that rival began bearing out on the turn, and drew off to score by four lengths over Tequila Tipsy in 1:11.80 for six furlongs.

Khalsa, who has had only one other starter at the meeting, said Lady's Purse will go next in the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Stallion Stakes at six furlongs on Jan. 20.

Khalsa said he would consider running Lady's Purse in the Oregon Oaks on closing day, March 11, "but we might just send her to California or Emerald Downs. I'd prefer to send her to California, because it is farther away."

That last comment was probably a joke.

Charlie's Pride doesn't have the mental demons that plague Lady's Purse, but he has enough physical problems to keep assistant trainer Jacqui Navarre busy most of her waking hours.

Charlie's Pride, now 7, won the 2006 Portland Meadows Mile for trainer R.G. Pierce. He was injured in his next start at Hastings in May of that year, and was injured again when he tried to make a comeback in last year's Mile. Pierce and Dr. Jack Root spent most of last summer trying to get him sound again, and Root said the task proved formidable.

"There weren't many places on him that weren't sore," he said. "We'd block one leg and he'd go lame in another. He's just a great big horse who hits the ground really hard, and it's tough to keep him together. I give Jacqui a lot of credit for getting him fit and keeping him sound. She fusses over him like a kid, and that's what he needs."

The reasons Jacqui Navarre is caring for Charlie's Pride are twofold. First, Pierce was sidelined by multiple strokes last fall and turned the horse over to Navarre's partner, trainer Steve Fisher. Then Fisher left for Golden Gate about a month ago with most of the couple's string, leaving Navarre to care for those few remaining at Portland Meadows.

Navarre said Charlie's Pride is currently plagued by problems with a knee, a check ligament, a stifle joint, and something called a "whirlbone," which she said was a bone extending backward from the hip.

"It's all just wear and tear stuff, but all of his problems need daily treatment and it takes a lot of time," she said. "I don't mind because he is such a neat old horse, and he still has a lot of ability."

Navarre brought Charlie's Pride back in a six-furlong allowance on Dec. 17, but he was shuffled back early and never got untracked. The poor effort gave her cover for dropping him in for a $6,250 tag last Sunday, and he responded with a game head win in 1:12 for six furlongs.

"One of the owners, Jim Seabeck, picked the race out for him, and I'll let him pick out the next one, too," said Navarre. "I'm just glad he won. He's pretty proud of himself now. He was dragging us around after the race, thinking he was King Kong. It's just fun to see, after all the problems he has had, and it is very gratifying for me."

Navarre said her stint with Charlie's Pride may not last much longer.

"He's R.G.'s horse, and as soon as R.G. is back on his feet he'll get Charlie's Pride back," she said. "R.G. is a tough old bird, so I don't imagine he'll be out much longer."

Trainer misses cashing big double

Quarter Horse trainer Leroy Twiggs enjoyed a twin killing on Sunday, winning the opener with 30-1 shot A Gingerbread Doll and the second, the $7,000 Director's Handicap, with the 9-2 Pardonmydustdotcom.

The two Twiggs trainees, both of whom were ridden by Tad Skaggs, combined to produce a $2 daily double payoff of $1,241.60. The trainer must have made out like a bandit, right?

"I didn't bet a penny on either of them," Twiggs said. "I came to the track with $11, but I loaned $10 to a friend who wanted to get something to eat. When I saw A Gingerbread Doll was going off at such a big price I reached for my wallet, but there was only $1 in it."

Twiggs was happy enough to get the wins, especially since he owns both horses.

"It was especially nice to see Pardonmydustdotcom win a stakes," he said. "He had been close so many times before, but somebody always beat him a head or a nose. I guess it was finally his turn to win."

o Agent Mike Delnick reported that rider Kevin Radke, who sustained two cracked ribs and a sprained ankle in a spill here on Jan.o1, will remain sidelined until Emerald Downs opens in April. Delnick said Radke has postponed a trip to South Korea, where he was scheduled to begin riding in February, until June.