05/10/2004 11:00PM

Lasting Code takes Baze for a ride

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AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Bob McMeans, who was hobbled recently by a broken ankle, was unable to make it to the paddock before Sunday's Hastings Park Handicap to give Gary Baze instructions on riding the favored Lasting Code.

As it turned out, it was just as well that he did not.

McMeans had planned to tell Baze to bring Lasting Code from at least a length or two off what figured to be a hot pace. Even had Baze gotten those instructions, he wouldn't have been able to comply.

"I don't think there was any way I could have strangled her back," said Baze. "I had a pretty good hold on her as it was, but she is a strong filly. Plus, she was comfortable where she was at. Those guys on the inside were sending, but she was right with them under a hold."

Lasting Code, who broke from post 10 in a field of 11, was just a head off the pace after an opening quarter-mile in 22 seconds. She opened a length advantage with a half in 44.20, then powered away through the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths, running the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15. Aunt Sophie finished with a rush for second, a half-length in front of Marva Jean.

Though both the margin of victory and the clocking were impressive, neither reveal the degree to which Lasting Code dominated the field. She simply never looked like she would lose.

"I was just a passenger," said Baze. "I caught a glimpse of a horse [Marva Jean] making a run at us at about the eighth pole, and I rode her a bit at that point - but she was going to finish anyway.

"Bob McMeans did a good job training her. Any time a horse can be off that long and come back at this level, it's pretty impressive."

Lasting Code, a 5-year-old daughter of Lost Code, was named the track's top 3-year-old filly after winning four stakes here in 2002, but she underwent surgery to remove ankle chips at the end of that year and did not reappear until she ran second in a 5 1/2 furlong allowance prep for the Hastings Park on April 17. While most horses get six to nine months to recover from arthroscopic surgery, Lasting Code got a full 20 months.

"You take care of the horses and they take care of you," said owner Jerre Paxton.

There was enough doubt that Lasting Code would recapture her brilliant 3-year-old form to encourage a full group of opponents to enter against her in the Hastings Park, but she was sent off as the 9-5 favorite and she ran like an overlay. When she goes next, in the Washington State Legislators Stakes at the same 6 1/2-furlong distance on June 6, both the field size and the odds on Lasting Code will likely shrink dramatically.

Knightsbridge Road vs. Bub resumes

Knightsbridge Road and Bub, who staged a memorable season-long rivalry here in 2002 when both were juveniles, were back at it in Friday night's six-furlong allowance feature. Knightsbridge Road defeated his arch-rival by 3 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:09.60.

Bub enjoyed a 4-1 edge over Knightsbridge Road in 2002, when the two horses ran one-two in five matchups that year, each of which was decided by less than a length. Bub was sidelined almost all of last year with an injury, while Knightsbridge Road was named Emerald's top 3-year-old on the strength of a stakes win and six stakes placings.

The two 4-year-olds will likely meet again in the 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Net Handicap on May 23.

Sundance Circle back to work soon

Trainer Howard Belvoir reported that last year's Washington-bred juvenile champion, Sundance Circle, has returned to training after undergoing knee surgery last September. Sundance Circle, who was a strapping individual at 2, has grown six inches since he raced last, Belvoir said. Sundance Circle has a record of three wins and a second from four starts. He is scheduled to work for the first time in about a week, Belvoir said.

Schwarzmann memorial service

Memorial services for longtime Seattle Times turf writer Bob Schwarzmann, who died last Friday at the age of 81, have been scheduled for 11 a.m. on Thursday, at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Shoreline, which is located at 14514 20th Avenue N.E.

Schwarzmann covered racing at Longacres for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Eleonore, and two children.

* Emerald vice-president Jack Hodge will be at Pimlico to see his homebred Herculated run in the Argent Dixie, a Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile turf race on the Preakness undercard. Herculated, a 4-year-old son of Louis Quatorze, has won 5 of 8 starts and is coming off a second in Grade 2 company at Fair Grounds on March 21.