11/13/2003 1:00AM

Houston Shuffle will run now, rest later


PORTLAND, Ore. - After Houston Shuffle won the OTBA Sales Stakes on Nov. 1, putting himself in line to collect a $25,000 bonus with a score in the Oregon Futurity on Dec. 13, trainer Jonathan Nance spoke of skipping Saturday's $15,480 Bill Wineberg Stakes at Portland Meadows in order to give Houston Shuffle a better chance at winning the bigger prize.

He changed his mind.

"I didn't want to wear him out by racing him every two weeks right up to the Futurity, but when I thought about it I realized I would be better off running him in the Wineberg and skipping the Columbia River, which is two weeks after the Wineberg and two weeks before Futurity," Nance explained. "Both [the Columbia River and the Wineberg] are at six furlongs, but the Wineberg has a bigger purse and it is restricted to Oregon-breds. It makes more sense to run him this Saturday and then train him up to the Futurity."

Nance's decision was sealed when Houston Shuffle won the Sales Stakes by nearly four lengths and came out of the race in tip-top shape.

"He doesn't act like he needs a rest right now," said Nance. "In fact, it seems like he is getting stronger in his morning gallops. I think he'll be really tough on Saturday.

"Tom Won is the horse he'll have to beat, but he may have an advantage over Tom Won at this point. He already has a six-furlong race in him, which has to help, and I think he is quicker that Tom Won. If he breaks fast and gets an easy lead, it might be all over."

Sushi Q's latest prospect

It may seem surprising that Nance is worried about Tom Won at all, since Houston Shuffle beat him by seven lengths in the five-furlong debut for both horses on Oct. 18. Tom Won, however, has the look of a comer.

A big, impressive-looking individual with a long stride, Tom Won finished well after breaking slowly and racing wide in his debut, then took a strong step forward when given another half-furlong to work with in his second start on Nov. 1. In that maiden special weight race, Tom Won again broke a bit slowly and required at least 100 yards to gain his best stride, but he took the lead entering the turn and drew off to score by nearly five lengths in 1:07.80. Owner-trainer Delmer Webb feels Tom Won will continue to improve with distance.

"I think he'll be twice the horse he is now when he gets to go around two turns, and even six furlongs will help," Webb said. "I also think he wants to come from off the pace. We had to hustle him last time because he broke from the rail, but he'll be more comfortable if we give him time to settle into stride before we ask him to run.

"I really think he has a lot of potential, and he is learning more every time he goes to the track."

Tom Won is the latest prospect from the good mare Sushi Q., who was originally purchased by Webb for just $1,500 for owner Jerry Martin.

"I bought her sight unseen, and my only condition was that she couldn't have any chipped knees or ankles," Webb recalled. "Well, she didn't have any chips, but she only had one eye. They didn't tell me about that."

Despite her handicap, Sushi Q. managed to win 13 of 70 starts for nearly $48,000 in earnings. Later, after Sushi Q. retired and Martin decided to get out of racing, Webb purchased the mare and her second foal for himself and his son, Ben.

That foal turned out to be Cyamaria, who retired at 3 with 10 wins from 18 starts and more $80,000 in earnings. Sushi Q.'s third foal, Yesss, is still going strong at 5 with 10 wins from 32 starts for nearly $70,000 in earnings, and Tom Won is her fourth foal to live. She has since produced a yearling full sister to Tom Won, who is by Cahill Road.

Flying Memo headed to Hollywood

Flying Memo, a 2-year-old daughter of Memo who set a track record of 39.40 seconds in her 3 1/2-furlong debut at Hastings on Oct. 26, is at Portland Meadows with owner-trainer Eric Jensen, but she won't stay there long.

"I'm sending her to Mike Mitchell at Hollywood Park," Jensen said. "She came out of her first race with sore shins, so she won't be running anytime soon. She'll undergo therapy for 30 days, then Mike will put her back into training. She is a Cal-bred, so it makes sense to run her down there."

Jensen said Flying Memo's 3-year-old half-sister by Formal Gold, Chul Chul, is in training here and should make her debut in about a month. Both fillies are out of the unraced Avenue of Flags mare Flag Collector, whom Jensen purchased for $10,500 from the annual OTBA sale.

Glad to Be Here on the mend

Glad to Be Here, who won both the Oregon Futurity and the Oregon Derby for owner and breeder Burle Oakley at the 2002-03 meeting, will not race at the current meet, according to trainer Sue Utley.

"He had surgery to remove a knee chip after the Oregon Derby, and we decided to give him a full year off to recover," she said.