11/02/2001 1:00AM

Hot pace a likely scenario


PORTLAND, Ore. - A compact field of five juveniles, including three who campaigned through the summer at Emerald Downs, will vie over five furlongs in Sunday's $7,500-added Columbia River Stakes at Portland Meadows.

Manito Gentleman, Big Harry Deal, and White Tie Ole have similar credentials, as all three graduated on the maiden $10,000 or maiden $12,500 levels at Emerald. Manito Gentleman could rule a slight favorite, however, based on solid efforts against winners in his two most recent outings.

Manito Gentleman came from well back to earn his maiden win by nearly five lengths after five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Aug. 2. A British Columbia-bred son of Sepoy, he then closed strongly to finish second against $16,000 runners on Aug. 31 and again finished well to get fourth against $25,000 company on Sept. 8 in a pair of six-furlong tries at Emerald.

Manito Gentleman has maintained his edge with three works over this track for trainer R. G. Pierce and should prove hard to resist if presented with a realistic pace to target.

A lively pace seems probable, as both Big Harry Deal and White Tie Ole scored their maiden wins after racing on or very close to the pace throughout. Rob's Avenger, who earned his maiden win against special weight company at Boise, also has good tactical speed.

The final entrant, Brass Halo, will be making his debut in the Columbia River. A son of Dixieland Brass, he is out of a mare who has produced three winners from as many foals to race.