12/02/2005 1:00AM

Looks like a day for statebreds


PORTLAND, Ore. - A pair of open stakes for 2-year-olds will be contested at Portland Meadows on Sunday, and that usually means the Oregon-breds who enter have to take a back seat.

Not this time, however, as statebred Cascades Express figures as a strong favorite in the Lassie Stakes for fillies and Tom Two should be a slight choice over fellow Oregon-bred Cascadians Cuttie in the Columbia River Stakes for colts and geldings. Both of the $10,000 events will be contested at six furlongs.

Cascades Express is coming off a 7 3/4-length victory in the restricted Janet Wineberg Stakes on Nov. 19, when she got six furlongs in 1:14.40 under Javier Ortega. It was just the second start for Cascades Express, and her trainer, Jonathan Nance, feels she can move forward strongly in her third career outing in the Lassie.

Cascades Express has eight rivals in the Lassie, including Royal Snowflight. Royal Snowflight, a Washington-bred, is coming off an impressive 12 1/2-length victory over $6,250 maidens in her local debut on Oct. 31.

Tom Two bested Cascadians Cuttie by two lengths in the six-furlong Bill Wineberg Stakes, which was run in 1:13 on Nov. 19. Cascadians Cuttie was held up by traffic on the backstretch, however, and could be much closer with clear sailing in the Columbia River.

Andy Dandy, trained by Nance, could pose a threat to the top two. Andy Dandy has won his last two starts, including a 6 1/2-length score over allowance rivals.