08/31/2006 12:00AM

Immigration puts streak on the line


AUBURN, Wash. - Immigration will attempt to stretch his undefeated string to four on Saturday when he heads a full field of 12 2-year-olds in the $55,000 WTBA Lads Stakes at a mile.

Immigration, a Washington-bred son of Delineator from the barn of trainer and part-owner Howard Belvoir, has been rock solid through three starts. He led throughout to win his 5 1/2-furlong debut by three-quarters of a length on July 8, then came from slightly off the pace to score by four lengths in the six-furlong Emerald Express on July 22, and by 2 1/2 lengths in the 6 1/2-furlong Strong Ruler on Aug. 13. Saturday's test will be his toughest to date, in part because he must break from post 11.

"The short run to the first turn makes it hard to win from out there," said Belvoir. "No matter how you look at it, he'll have to run farther than everybody else. We'll have to use him early to get over, and that energy won't be there for the stretch. He'll need to be much the best to win."

Liberty for Al and Pirates Deputy probably have the best chance to upset Immigration. Liberty for Al was a fast-finishing second to Immigration in the Strong Ruler, and Pirates Deputy finished fastest of all to get third in the Emerald Express. Both runners seem likely to relish the one-mile distance of the Lads.

Also dangerous are the impressive maiden winners Honour the West and Slimmer Timmer.