06/07/2007 11:00PM

Harwood racking up stakes


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Doris Harwood began this meeting with nine stakes wins at Emerald Downs, and she has already added three more. The 3-year-old filly Shampoo won the U.S. Bank Stakes and the Federal Way Handicap, and Dinner at Arlene's won the Hastings Park Handicap for fillies and mares.

Harwood also trains Liberty for Al, who could make some noise in the route stakes for 3-year-olds, and a passel of well-bred 2-year-olds headed by the impressive maiden special weight winner Smarty Deb, who the trainer feels has the potential to be the best horse she has ever trained.

When it comes to stakes runners, Harwood's barn is clearly loaded.

"I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm a little, though," she said. "I don't want to jinx my horses. At the same time, it is always important to have a positive attitude, and there is no doubt that I have a lot of quality in my barn this year. I can't help but be excited."

Harwood will be especially excited if it rains this Sunday, when Dinner at Arlene's tries for her second stakes win at the meeting in the $45,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Dinner at Arlene's, a 5-year-old daughter of Forestry, won the Hastings Park over a sloppy surface that she clearly relished.

"I'm praying for rain," she said. "She handles a wet track so well. It is just a big advantage for her. It's not like she can't run on a fast track, but she is 2 for 2 on wet tracks."

There may be something that is more important to Dinner at Arlene's than a wet surface, however, and that is the lead. She has won 4 of the 5 races in which she was in front after a quarter-mile, while she is only 1 for 7 from even a little off the pace.

"It's pretty hard to escape the conclusion that she needs the lead," Harwood admitted. "She is a fast mare, though, and she has an excellent front-running rider in Gallyn Mitchell."

Add a wet track to Dinner at Arlene's speed and Mitchell's skill, and Harwood may very well add another stakes win to her total on Sunday

Essex confident with horse, rider

Trainer Charlie Essex would just as soon see the sun make a reappearance this weekend. The Essex-trained Kissntheboysgoodby beat Dinner at Arlene's and others in a 5o1/2-furlong optional claiming event on April 22, but she had to settle for second when favored at 3-2 in the Hastings Park.

"I don't think she really liked the mud that day, and the other filly just excelled in it, so that was that," he said. "Still, my filly ran a good race. She accelerated really nicely at the quarter pole, but she flattened out a little down the lane. She came back to work a strong five furlongs in 59 last Sunday, though, and I think she is coming up to this race a little better than the last one."

Kissntheboysgoodby will be missing regular rider Kate Repp, who is sidelined with a concussion and a sprained neck, but Essex feels he has found the perfect replacement in veteran rider Sandi Gann.

"Sandi worked her last Sunday, and they got along great," he reported. "I have complete confidence in her."

Productive time in California

Cielo Dulce, who ran in last year's Emerald Distaff and Belle Roberts, will return to the stakes ranks in the Washington Stake Legislators. The difference this year is that Cielo Dulce, a 5-year-old daughter of Cahill Road trained by Sharon Ross, is no longer a maiden.

"When I had her here last year I just couldn't get a maiden race to go for her, so I ended up having to run her in stakes and allowance races," said Ross. "She ran surprisingly well in some of those races, but I was running her over her head and she eventually got discouraged."

Ross sent Cielo Dulce to Northern California trainer Allen Severinsen in the fall and, after a two-race turf experiment and a closing second in a sloppy track sprint, Cielo Dulce began to win. She defeated maiden special weight runners and $40,000 starter allowance rivals before running second against $32,000 optional claimers, then defeated $25,000 optional claimers on May 5. In each of her last four starts in Northern California, which were all at a mile, she posted successively higher Beyer Speed Figures.

"She had a chance to race on a regular basis in California, and she was able to build her confidence back up," said Ross. "Allen really did a nice job with her. When I got her back, she looked great and she was feeling really good about herself."

Cielo Dulce prefers more ground than she will get on Sunday, but Ross feels she can be competitive at 6 1/2 furlongs. She worked a sharp six furlongs in 58.80 seconds last Friday.

"She worked really nice, and I think she is sharp enough to sprint effectively," said Ross. "There is no question she is better suited for a mile or 1 1/16 miles, but we'll start her at 6 1/2 furlongs and stretch her out from there."