08/31/2006 11:00PM

Judicature faces real challenge


AUBURN, Wash. - No filly has ever swept the four stakes for 2-year-old females at Emerald Downs, and until this year only one - Banana Raspberry in 1998 - managed to win the first two.

Judicature matched that feat with easy scores in the six-furlong Angie C. and the 6 1/2-furlong Knights Choice, and she will be favored to stretch her string to three stakes wins in a row in Sunday's $100,000 Barbara Shinpoch at a mile. Should Judicature manage that, it would seem to be almost a foregone conclusion that she will complete the sweep against statebred competition in the six-furlong Diane Kem Stakes on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 17.

A victory for Judicature in the Shinpoch is anything but a foregone conclusion, however. Unlike the Knights Choice, which is restricted to the progeny of nominated stallions, and the Diane Kem, which is restricted to Washington-breds, the Shinpoch is an open race. It is also contested around two turns, which will be something new for all of the Shinpoch hopefuls. Trainer Bill Tollett and his son David, his assistant, are at least confident that the one-mile distance will not be Judicature's undoing.

"She is by Tribunal, who was a route horse, and her mother was a route horse, too," said David Tollett. "She acts like a route horse, so it wouldn't even occur to me to question whether she could go a mile. I just don't think it's an issue."

The competition that Judicature will face on Sunday is another matter. The younger Tollett has a great deal of respect for the Steve Bullock-trained Welken, who was a fast-closing third to Judicature in the Angie C. before defeating another Tollett trainee, Redness, in a 6 1/2- furlong maiden special weight race Aug. 18.

"I have to give her a lot of credit for beating Redness, because we like Redness a lot," Tollett said. "She is a half-sister to Wildcat Bettie B, who has won a Grade 1 and a Grade 3 stakes now, and we think she could turn into something special. She is a little behind Judicature in terms of maturity, though, so Judicature is the better horse right now."

Tollett added that Judicature appears to be coming into Sunday's race at the peak of her powers.

"She is doing better than ever," he said. "She worked a really good half-mile on Tuesday, then galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.60. Ricky Frazier was up, and that was the third straight time Ricky has worked her. He knows her now, and he has a lot of confidence in her. So do we. We're expecting her to run really well."

'Bobby' unlikely to make derby

Brother Bobby stands a good chance of winning Monday's $100,000 Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby if he can get in, but that appears unlikely to happen.

Eighteen 3-year-olds were nominated to the 1 1/8-mile stakes, but only 12 can run. Preference is given to the top money earners, and that's a problem for Brother Bobby. With seconds in his only two starts, including a near-miss in the 1 1/16- mile Seattle Slew Handicap here on Aug. 6, Brother Bobby has just $17,600 in earnings. That puts him 15th in line to get into the derby gate, and as of Friday morning only one of the horses in front of him had defected.

Trainer Grant Forster had hoped that a one-mile allowance race slated for Friday would siphon off a couple of others standing in Brother Bobby's way, but that was not the case. Though three Derby nominees entered, all had less in earnings than Brother Bobby.

"It doesn't look like he's going to make it," said assistant trainer Blaine Wright. "It's a shame, because we trained him up to this race and we thought he had a great chance to win it. It won't be the end of the world if he can't run, though. We'll just take him to Kentucky and run him in a maiden race with a purse of $50,000 or $60,000. That's not a bad alternative."

Major purse boost at Portland

Purses will be up substantially when Portland Meadows opens its 60th season on Oct. 8.

General manager Dwayne Yuzik said overnight purses for both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races will be increased by about 21 percent from last year's level. Stakes purses will also be increased substantially, but the schedule has not yet been released.

The purse increases were made possible by year-round simulcasting, which has been conducted by Portland Meadows since the closure of the Multnomah Greyhound Park last December. Until then, Multnomah conducted simulcasting in Oregon during its summer meeting.

Portland Meadows will race on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays during its 2006-07 season, with first post scheduled for 12:35 p.m. Pacific each racing day. The meeting will stretch 78 days through Kentucky Derby Day, May 5, when the track will present its only Saturday card.