04/17/2008 11:00PM

Harwood reloads after record-setting season


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Doris Harwood is coming off a dream season at Emerald Downs, smashing the previous record for stakes wins with an even dozen and ranking as the leading trainer in money won with $688,443 in purse earnings.

Unfortunately, several of the horses who helped her establish those marks are no longer in her barn. Boeing Handicap winner Dinner at Arlene's was retired and has been bred in Kentucky to leading sire Smart Strike, and three-time stakes winner Smarty Deb is now at Santa Anita with trainer Carla Gaines. Belle Roberts Handicap winner Hit a Star, along with promising prospects Dat's Dream, Princess Hiawatha, and the rest of the horses owned by Golden Aggie Ranch, have all been transferred to the care of local trainer Craig Roberts.

Like a tradition-rich college football program, however, Harwood is not rebuilding. She is reloading.

"I've got 25 2-year-olds this year, and most of them have outstanding pedigrees," she said. "I'm not ready to give out any names yet, but I'll be surprised if there aren't some stars in that group. I'm excited about them."

Harwood also has two noteworthy holdovers from last year's crop of stakes winners. Shampoo, 4, equaled a track record with four stakes wins here last season, and Margo's Gift, 3, won three stakes at the Emerald meeting before shipping to Monmouth Park to win the $250,000 Favorite Trick Stakes at odds of 26-1.

"They have both been training here all spring, and they are both working well," Harwood said. "Margo's Gift is pointing for the Auburn Stakes on May 11, and Shampoo will go in the Hastings Park Handicap on May 18. I hope to get a prep race into both of them, but if their races don't fill, I'll train them up to the stakes. Either way, I think they will run well."

Even with Shampoo and Margo's Gift returning and a host of promising juveniles in the pipeline, Harwood doesn't expect to threaten her own record of 12 stakes wins at a single meeting.

"Last year was phenomenal," she said. "I had five stakes winners in my barn at once, and that just doesn't happen very often. I don't have enough good older horses in my barn to win 12 stakes this year. I wish I had more, but I don't. It's a new season, and I'll do the best that I can with the horses I have."

Oregon trainers forced north

There are far more Oregon-based trainers on the grounds this year than in previous seasons, and the reason is simple. In past years, the majority of the Oregon outfits that raced here trained their horses at Portland Meadows and shipped up to Emerald to race. This year, Portland Meadows owner Magna Entertainment elected not to leave the track open for summer training. The Oregonians who wished to race here were more or less forced to apply for stalls on the grounds.

Most would have preferred to stay closer to home for obvious reasons, but there may be a silver lining to the forced move. Trainer Eulia Bischoff recalled that it was tough for her to win races here when she was shipping in from Portland Meadows, while she has more than held her own since moving her stable here for the summer several years ago.

"I just felt it didn't do the horses any good to be on a van for three hours before they raced," she said. "Anyway, it didn't work for me. I've had better luck since I moved up here every summer. It only makes sense that they run better when they can train over the same surface that they race on."

There is, however, a rub. The influx of about a dozen Oregon outfits, at least half of which were formerly stabled at Portland Meadows during the summer, has strained the track's available stalls. Few of the Oregon trainers got all the stalls they wanted.

Jonathan Nance, for example, is stabled on the grounds for the first time in five seasons. He campaigned more than 30 horses at Portland Meadows, where he was second in the trainer standings with 53 wins, but he has only 23 stalls here.

"I couldn't bring all the horses I wanted to bring, but that's not my biggest problem," Nance said. "My biggest problem is that I have clients who want to claim horses here, but I have no place to put them. I hope the stall situation loosens up a little as we get into the meeting."

Westsideclyde working toward return

Trainer Craig Roberts reported that Westsideclyde, who was named sprinter of the meeting here last season after two stakes wins and a stakes placing from only three starts, is training forwardly for his 6-year-old debut.

"He only has two works, so it will be a while before he runs, but he is doing very well," Roberts said. "I'm taking my time with him. He is a wonderful horse but he has had soundness problems, and I want him to last the entire meeting."

Westsideclyde suffered a tendon injury early in his career, but he won 5 of 7 starts here in 2006 and he scored back to back wins in the 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap and the one-mile Budweiser Emerald Handicap last spring. At that point, he was considered the main local hope for the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, but he chipped a knee in a workout and was sidelined for the remainder of the year.

"We had the chip removed last summer, and everything seemed to go fine," Roberts said. "He is sound now, and if he continues to be healthy, I think he can have a very good campaign."