08/13/2001 11:00PM

Kid Katabatic likely for his fourth Mile


AUBURN, Wash. - There will be no defending champion in Sunday's renewal of the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile, but another former Mile winner is likely to compete.

Edneator, the hero of last year's Mile, will not run after his disappointing comeback in the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap on Aug. 5, when he finished fifth and last.

"He's just not fit enough," said Kay Cooper, assistant to her father, trainer Jim Penney. "It wouldn't be fair to ask him to run against those kinds of horses right now."

But Kid Katabatic, who won the Mile in 1997, is set to make his fourth assault on the Northwest's premier handicap after drilling five furlongs in 59.60 seconds Monday morning. Kid Katabatic finished fourth in the 1998 Mile and third in 1999 before skipping last year's running.

The 8-year-old Kid Katabatic registered the fastest of 12 five-furlong works on Monday's tab, with the next-fastest being 1:01.20, then galloped out six furlongs in just over 1:12.

Trainer Shauna Ferguson said the work probably earned Kid Katabatic a berth in Sunday's Mile, though a final decision will not be made until later this week.

Locally based horses who are regarded as definite Mile starters include Makors Mark, Mike K, Advantage, Crowning Meeting, and Snohomish Loot. Sprint champion Handy N Bold and Kittys Link, second to Makors Mark in last month's Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap, are listed as possible starters, depending upon which horses ship in from California.

Seven Californians are under consideration for the Mile, with the most likely shippers being Irisheyesareflying, L'Effaceur, and Prodigious. Also possible are Out of Mind, Smile Again, Red Eye, and Sign of Fire.

Irisheyesareflying was assigned 117 pounds, a pound fewer than Out of Mind and Smile Again, and will be the starting highweight if the other two Californians stay home.

Irisheyesareflying, a 5-year-old son of Flying Continental who is owned in part by trainer John Dolan, won a pair of high-priced optional claiming events last winter at Santa Anita and has since run second in two graded stakes, the Grade 2 San Bernardino at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 All American Handicap at Bay Meadows. He is coming off a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood Park on June 10.

Diglett sharp in Owners' BC

Diglett's impressive victory in Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Washington Owners' Breeders' Cup Handicap set the stage for a truly intriguing running of the $125,000 Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby on Sept. 9.

If the favored Jumron Won had won Sunday' stakes, it would have made up for his disappointing fourth-place finish in last month's Tacoma Handicap and reestablished his dominance over the local 3-year-old division. If Jade Green had repeated his Tacoma triumph, it would have firmly established him as the new divisional leader. In either case, the Derby field would likely have consisted of a strong favorite and a few intrepid challengers.

Jumron Won and Jade Green finished third and fourth, however, as Diglett at 6-1 and the 5-1 Poker Brad ran 1-2. The result scrambled the local 3-year-old division and virtually insured a large and competitive-looking field for the 1 1/8-mile Derby.

Sunday's stakes looked competitive as well, but Diglett drew off to score by an authoritative 6 1/4 lengths after racing in seventh position early. Under Sam Krasner, the Hastings Park-based Diglett began to pass rivals five furlongs from the wire, zipped past the pacesetting Sabertooth with a quarter-mile remaining and continued strongly to trip the timer in 1:41.60, the fastest clocking at the meeting for 1 1/16 miles.

"I didn't want to move that early, but he did," reported Krasner. "He just started picking them off, and he never let up."

Diglett's sustained five-furlong move brought memories of his half-brother Saratoga Passage, who amassed more than $800,000 in earnings to rank as the richest Washington-bred in history. Despite his illustrious relative, owner Rodger Lam was able to buy Diglett, a gelded son of Alnaab, for a modest $9,000 at the 1999 Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association Summer Yearling Sale.

"His dam had the one real good horse, but she also had some others that didn't do much," noted trainer Gary Demorest. "He wasn't perfect, either, but we figured for $9,000 we could live with his flaws."

Sunday's stakes win was Diglett's first from four tries at Emerald Downs, but he won last year's rich Ascot Graduation and this season's Klondike at Hastings Park. In all, he has won five of 10 starts for $186,344 in earnings.

"He has been up and down a bit, but we're always optimistic when we run him," said Demorest. "Whenever he runs badly, we sit back and look and try to find what went wrong, then fix the problem. One time he was sick, once he bled and in his last race we thought he just needed a race over the track. Today, I guess we don't have to look for anything."

Peery gets first local victory

Apprentice jockey Melissa Peery won her first race at Emerald Downs on Sunday, bringing Matsuri from far back to post a neck victory over the favored Sanskrit in the fifth race.

The rider won several races in Oregon under her maiden name, Melissa Healy, but she had not ridden in 2001 until recently. Matsuri, who is trained by Mark Molina, was Peery's fifth mount at Emerald.

* Among a myriad of activities scheduled for Longacres Mile week at Emerald Downs are two of special interest to handicappers. Fans who pick up "passports" at the track early in the week and have them stamped on at least three of the four live racing days will be eligible for a drawing to win a $1,000 wager on Sunday's Longacres Mile. To better determine which horse to bet with the $1,000 wager, fans can attend a free handicapping seminar conducted by Daily Racing Form's Mike Watchmaker at 11 a.m. in the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on Saturday.