11/02/2001 1:00AM

Kenney the elder back after years on farm


PORTLAND, Ore. - A glance at the trainer standings after the first weekend of the Portland Meadows meeting reveals something familiar, at least to veteran fans, as Martin Kenney's name is right up there at the top.

Kenney was the leading trainer at Longacres in 1974, 1977, and 1979. He also enjoyed great success at Canterbury Downs in the late 1980's and early 1990's, which was the last time he trained a stable of horses at the track. Since then he has taken a back seat to his son, Danny, who has trained ontrack while Martin has run the family's farm in Snohomish, Wash. Danny Kenney was the fourth-leading trainer at the most recent Emerald Downs meeting with 37 wins, but he and his father have switched roles for this stand.

"Danny's memories of Portland Meadows were of being wet and cold as a rider, so he wasn't anxious to come down here," said Martin Kenney. "So we decided that he'd stay home and run the farm this winter, and I'd come to race here.

"I have nothing but great memories of this track. I won the Portland Meadows Mile here in 1977 with Early Cotton, who was a horse I claimed for Sam Roffe for $50,000, and I have raced here on and off over the years. It has always been a friendly track and a good place to run horses, so I've enjoyed racing here."

Kenney noted that he could have sent his horses to his daughter Darcy Hare, who trains a stable at Turf Paradise, but said he had two special reasons for coming here.

"The main thing is that I wanted to support Northwest racing," he said. "With Yakima Meadows and Playfair gone, it's more important than ever that Portland Meadows does well. We need more than one track in the Northwest. The Portland guys supported us when we were trying to get Emerald Downs built, and now we have a chance to support them while they are trying to build a new track.

"The other thing is that I've got a chance to work with my grandson Derrick, who will be my assistant trainer here. Derrick is Danny and Lisa's son" - Lisa Kenney, a former jockey, is Danny Kenney's first wife - "so he is by a jockey and out of a jockey. He was born to the sport but he's too big to be a rider, so he'd like to try training. This is a good place for him to learn, and we'll see if we can win some races along the way."

The barn scored with claimers Mad Jazz and O'Hana's Rainbow on opening weekend, putting Kenney in a three-way tie with Pat Sonnen and Jim Ferguson for leading trainer after two days of racing. He will have a chance to add to his total on Sunday, when he sends out the promising 2-year-old White Tie Ole in the $7,500 Columbia River Stakes at five furlongs.

White Tie Ole, a Washington-bred son of White Tie Tryst who races for breeder Joseph Dragna Jr., scored his maiden win by a more than eight lengths over $10,000 company in August at Emerald Downs, then registered a pair of fifths against winners before the Emerald meet ended Sept. 17.

"We gelded him after his last race at Emerald, and that may help him," Kenney said. "He was pretty high-strung, and now he seems to be concentrating on business a little better. He showed that he has talent in his maiden win, and he has been training well. We were able to train him over the three-eighths-mile track on our farm before this track opened for training, so I think he's pretty fit. I just hope he likes this surface. Portland Meadows has always been a horse-for-course kind of track."

o Owner-trainer Delmer Webb reported that Cyamaria, who won 10 stakes at Portland Meadows, has been retired because of wear and tear on her ankles. A 4-year-old daughter of Boutinierre, she will be bred to Cahill Road.

o Portland Meadows will stage the first of its popular $10,000 handicapping contests on Nov. 17-18. Rules and entry forms are available at the track's front office.