08/30/2005 11:00PM

Itstufftobegood deserves kudos


AUBURN, Wash. - Itstufftobegood, who won for the fifth straight time at Emerald Downs on Saturday, isn't eligible for claimer-of-the-meeting honors simply because he hasn't raced for a tag at this meet. All five of his wins have come under $10,000 starter allowance or starter handicap conditions.

There ought to be some way of recognizing Itstufftobegood's accomplishments, however, since he has been one of the most remarkable horses to race here this year. In an era when stayers are rare, he has authoritative wins at 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 miles. And in an era in which weight-carriers are practically extinct, he won those two races under 124 and 126 pounds. He also set a track record (2:01) in his 1 1/4-mile victory and tied another (2:30.60) in his 1 1/2-mile score on Saturday.

On top of all that, Itstufftobegood overcame a bizarre setback to post his latest win, according to his trainer, Neil Knapp.

"He was on the hotwalker on Thursday and he stepped in a hole, which turned out to be a nest for yellow jackets," Knapp said. "They swarmed him and he got stung all over. His head blew up, and his eyes were swollen shut. Fortunately, the vet was able to give him something that took down the swelling."

That wasn't the first setback for Itstufftobegood, a 4-year-old son of Soft Gold who races for his breeder, John Elardi of Bradbury, Calif. Knapp said Itstufftobegood's career almost ended before it began.

"They had him in training in Southern California and he got hurt, so John just about gave him away," said Knapp. "He sent him to me instead, and I finally got him to the races last September. He won a $10,000 maiden race in his first start, and that was how he got eligible for the marathon series."

Itstufftobegood's last two wins came in the second and third legs of the Harley H. Hoppe and Associates Marathon Championship Series, which is run under $10,000 starter handicap conditions. He skipped the initial, 1 1/8-mile leg of the series, but Knapp said he will run in the 1 3/4-mile finale on Sept. 18. If he wins that race, he will have a third track record because that race will be the first one ever run at 1 3/4 miles at Emerald Downs.

Regular rider Kevin Krigger made light of Itstufftobegood's 126-pound impost on Saturday, which was seven to 17 pounds more than his six rivals carried.

"It just goes to show you that weight doesn't matter," said Krigger, who has been riding at 119 to 122 pounds at this meeting.

Krigger may have a point, since he has ridden 103 winners, 19 more than his nearest pursuer in the race for leading rider, despite riding a little heavy. Still, Krigger thinks Itstufftobegood has given away enough weight to his rivals for now.

"I hope he doesn't have to carry any more weight next time," he said. "That's too much weight to be giving away."

Positive Prize a no-go

The biggest name on the list of 17 3-year-olds nominated for Monday's $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby won't run, according to trainer Tim McCanna. Positive Prize, the track's champion juvenile last year, will remain in California after running a bang-up race on the turf at Del Mar, McCanna said. Making his grass debut against older horses in the 1 1/16-mile H. F. Brubaker Handicap on Aug. 18, Positive Prize was defeated by a neck by Running Free in 1:41.20, good for a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. But Positive Prize was disqualified and placed fourth for interference out of the gate.

McCanna probably will saddle the derby favorite, anyway, Seattle Slew Handicap winner Alexandersrun. McCanna might also send out his good filly Gins Majesty.

Gins Majesty beat stablemate Queenledo in the 1 1/16-mile Kent Handicap, then ran second to A Classic Life in the Aug. 20 Washington Oaks despite missing about 10 days of training because of a minor leg injury.

"Her numbers are close to the boys," said McCanna. "I think she might go."

Queenledo and A Classic Life, incidentally, are scheduled to hook up in Sunday's B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hastings Park.

Karis Makaw Canada-bound

Karis Makaw, a hard-luck second in the Emerald Distaff on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 21, will go to Canada as well, trainer Bob Meeking said. "I wish there were another race for her here, but everything is for Washington-breds for the rest of the meeting," he said. "She is still doing marvelously, so I'm looking at two races at Hastings Park."

Karis Makaw, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Charismatic, will likely go in the $40,000 Delta Colleen at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 17, then in the $150,000 Ballerina at 1 1/8 miles on Oct. 15, Meeking said.

Tusko T. working well toward WTBA Lads

Trainer Howard Belvoir's undefeated 2-year-old Emerald Express winner Tusko T. is working smartly for the $50,000 WTBA Lads Stakes on Sept. 11. His other exceptional 2-year-old, Courting Seattle, has been turned out because of lack of racing opportunities.

"He got to run in the Emerald Express in July, then he doesn't get to run again until September," Belvoir said. "I would have had to give him three six-furlong works, and I wasn't willing to do that. I'd rather turn him out and have a nice 3-year-old next year."

Belvoir would have turned out Tusko T., too, but owner Al Benton didn't want to wait till next year. "Al is 95," Belvoir said. "He says the future is now."