03/17/2006 1:00AM

'Louie' has class edge on rivals


PORTLAND, Ore. - Seven 3-year-olds will seek a second career win in Sunday's best race at Portland Meadows, a six-furlong race for $12,500 claimers.

Louie Fergason appears to be the class of the field off an Emerald Downs campaign in which he netted a maiden win, a third-place finish to allowance company, and a second-place finish against $30,000 claimers from five starts. Trained by Jim Fergason, he has not raced since faltering as the favorite against $15,000 company in October, but has worked six times over this track and appears ready for a strong effort. Louie Fergason, a son of Preakness winner Louis Quatorze, will be ridden by Juan Gutierrez.

Among Louis Fergason's most interesting challengers is Dr. Daniel. Trained by Mark Jones, Dr. Daniel ran second to the highly regarded Ballou Slew in his Jan. 21 debut, then came back to post a 4 1/4-length win over maiden special weight company on Feb. 5. He appeared to be a threat in the one-mile Greek Native Handicap on Feb. 26, but he trailed throughout and finished sixth. Dr. Daniel came back with a bullet three-furlong workout in 36.40 seconds on March 12,

however, and may be ready to make good on the promise he showed in his first two races.

Also dangerous are Cajun Way and Prancer's Choice, who are coming off sharp maiden wins earlier this month, and Willy Fly, who graduated on the maiden special weight level in December.