09/10/2003 12:00AM

Iammarino pinch-hits


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Mike Iammarino continued his stakes-winning ways in the $35,000 R.J. Speers last Saturday on a pick-up mount that could end up as Manitoba's horse of the year.

Iammarino, a former three-time leading rider in Alberta, guided Northern Affair to a two-length victory over Deputy Country in the 1 1/16-mile Speers. The race was Northern Affair's first try against older horses

Setting solid fractions of 23 seconds, 47.40, 1:12.40, and 1:38.80 while under pressure throughout, Northern Affair ($10.10) shook pace rival Deputy Country passing the eighth pole and drew out late in 1:45.40 over a fast track.

Sir Pucker, who lacked running room on both turns, rallied for third, one length behind Deputy Country.

It was the second straight stakes win for Northern Affair, who was a bargain $4,000 yearling purchase by K-5 Stable and trainer Clayton Gray two years ago.

A 3-year-old gelding by Subordination, Northern Affair is now trained by Keith Corbel.

Iammarino picked up the mount on Northern Affair when regular rider Juan Crawford was suspended

Iammarino, who arrived a month late for the Assiniboia Downs meeting, has caught on quickly here. His record now stands at 42 wins, 28 seconds and 37 thirds, and he has purse earnings of $367,763.

Iammarino, back in Phoenix this week getting ready for the winter meeting at Turf Paradise, is now third in the standings, 11 wins back of Crawford, who remains second with 53 wins despite serving 16 days' worth of suspensions.

Stolen Sheena takes Oaks

Travis Hightower added to his meet-leading totals of 83-52-33 and earnings of $634,121 with a victory aboard Stolen Sheena in the $35,000 Assiniboia Oaks last Sunday.

Hightower gave Stolen Sheena a patient trip behind a lone speed horse and a few chasers, taking her off the rail in the stretch and getting by in the final strides.

Owned by the partnership of Gary Danelson and the Pawluk family and trained by Danelson, Stolen Sheena won the 1 1/16-mile race by three-quarters of a length over fellow stalker Pete's Surprise. Pacesetter Ocean Effect finished another neck back in third.

Ocean Effect set fractions of 22.60, 47.40, 1:13, and 1:41.20, opening up six lengths at one point, before Stolen Sheena nailed her at the wire in 1:48.60.