08/11/2006 12:00AM

Immigration in position to go 3 for 3


AUBURN, Wash. - Immigration heads a field of eight promising juveniles in Sunday's $45,000 Strong Ruler Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

A son of Delineator trained by Howard Belvoir, Immigration has won his first two starts. He won his debut by three-quarters of a length, finishing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.80 on June 25, then returned July 22 to win the Emerald Express Stakes by four widening lengths, finishing six furlongs in 1:09.80. Belvoir said Immigration continues to impress in the mornings, and he expects another strong effort Sunday.

Even so, Immigration can expect stiff opposition from Onehundred Days, who finished well to get second in the Emerald Express after scoring a 3 1/4-length victory over $40,000 maidens in his debut. A son of Slewdledo trained by Tim McCanna, Onehundred Days seems certain to appreciate the added distance of the Strong Ruler.

Also a danger is Pedro Valdivia, another son of Slewdledo, who is trained by top 2-year-old trainer Bud Klokstad. Pedro Valdivia finished fourth behind Onehundred Days in his debut, but came back July 27 to post a one-length victory over $40,000 maidens despite encountering significant trouble turning for home. Pedro Valdivia was carried extremely wide by a rival when entering the stretch, but finished fast once he was straightened up and completed the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.60.

Another possibility is Wild Cycle, who defeated maiden special weight rivals by a head in his 5 1/2-furlong debut July 8. Wild Cycle, a Free at Last gelding trained by Aubrey Villyard, was entered back in the Emerald Express, but stumbled coming out of the gate to unseat his rider.

"I doubt if he got much out of that race after losing the rider, but he has worked five furlongs twice since then, and I think I've got him fit enough," said Villyard. "Now it is a question of whether he is good enough. I wanted to find that out last time, but it just didn't work out."

The other winner in the field, Windsong at Last, looked sharp defeating $40,000 maidens with 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.20 on June 18, but failed to enter contention and finished ninth of 12 in the Emerald Express. Windsong at Last, a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Makors Mark, will be out to make amends for that poor effort Sunday.

Rounding out the field are Liberty for Al, Yacht Spotter, and Gonnadowhatiwanado, who are maidens.