11/13/2002 12:00AM

Icicle Angel follows connections' script


PORTLAND, Ore. - It seldom happens in racing that things unfold exactly the way one hopes.

But Sunday's six-furlong Diane Kem Handicap went just as it was scripted for owner-trainer Dick Occhiuto. Earlier in the week Occhiuto described the best- case scenario for his classy mare, Icicle Angel: "She wants to come into the lane with a couple of horses in front of her on the inside," he said. "That's the ideal situation for her."

And that was just where rider Marijo Terleski had Icicle Angel when the field entered the stretch after a brisk half-mile in 45.69 seconds. Pacesetter Missy Muffet was still in the lead on the rail, but she was about to yield to pressers Maria Kay and Wegota Slewzy. Icicle Angel meanwhile was moving on the outside with all three squarely in her sights.

"At that point I knew we were home free," said Terleski. "I had been holding her back because Dick didn't want her to make the lead too soon. But as soon as I asked her to run she just gobbled them up. She worked awesome coming into this race, so I was pretty confident she would run big if we had a good trip - and we had a perfect trip."

Icicle Angel, who was sent off as the 2-1 choice in a field of nine, hit the front before reaching the furlong marker and drew out to score by 2 1/2 lengths over Maria Kay in 1:12.91. Stareaux finished with a rush on the rail to be up for third. Icicle Angel has seven wins in 31 starts and earnings of $102,437.

"My goal was to get her over $100,000 in earnings, and I'm glad she did it in this race," said Occhiuto. "There won't be another race for her until after the first of the year, so I think I'll just turn her out for a month and let her rest on her laurels."

Touched an Angel springs surprise

Saturday's second race, a maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies, brought together what looked to be an exceptionally competitive field of eight. Included in the line-up were Paper Wings, the strong favorite off three straight runner-up efforts against similar company, two of them at Emerald; Decanted, a full sister to $300,000-plus earner Revillew Slew and a promising third in her recent debut; and Painted La Riva, a well-publicized rarity as a double-registered Thoroughbred and Paint and an impressive third in her only previous start.

So what happened? Touched an Angel, who had run third once in three starts against modest $12,500 maidens at Emerald, went to the front and widened with every stride, winning by nearly eight lengths over Paper Wings in 1:06.60 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Decanted finished third and Painted La Riva was fourth.

"I was pretty surprised she won as easily as she did, but we always thought she had some ability," said Bruno Maelfeyt, who trains Touched an Angel for his parents, Leo and Frieda Maelfeyt.

"She was green and climbing in her first start at Emerald, and she got left at the start last time out. I think she just finally put it all together," he said.

Maelfeyt said he will take things one step at a time for Touched an Angel, a Washington-bred daughter of Cisco Road and Tajranee, by Taj Alriyadh.

"We'll try to find a conditioned allowance for her next start," he said.

Washington in Great State Challenge

Washington State may be represented by three or four entrants in the initial NTRA Great State Challenge to be run at Sam Houston on Dec. 7. The Great State Challenge will consist of six races, each with a purse of $275,000, with a maximum of 14 horses in each race. Automatic berths in each race will be given to nominees from the eight largest NTRA member states, and the remaining six starters will be selected by a committee from the nominees of nine other NTRA member states. Points will be awarded to the first five finishers in each race, and a trophy will be presented to the state whose nominees earn the most points.

Washington nominees include Emerald Downs stakes winner Graceful Cat to the Distaff at 1 1/16 miles; Taylor's Fury, a sharp allowance winner in Kentucky, to the Turf at 1 1/8 miles; and Youcan'ttakeme, a maiden winner at Emerald and a recent allowance winner in Kentucky, to the seven-furlong Juvenile Fillies. Two other Washington-bred 2-year-old fillies, Cascade Corona and Tavy's Plan, have been nominated as alternates. Any race that does not draw 14 pre-entrants on Nov. 25 will be filled out by alternate nominees as selected by a committee, with a limit of two horses from the same state being allowed to run in any race.