07/30/2001 11:00PM

Makors Mark eliminates any doubts


AUBURN, Wash. - With his convincing victory in last Sunday's $86,250 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, Makors Mark made two things perfectly clear: He is the top older router at Emerald Downs, and he has a legitimate shot at winning the Grade 3 $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 19.

Both points were in doubt before Sunday's stakes. Makors Mark, a 4-year-old colt who races for a syndicate headed by bloodstock agent Packy McMurry, was the best 3-year-old in the Northwest last year when he won 5 of 8 starts at Emerald Downs, then capped his campaign with a victory in the prestigious B.C. Derby at Hastings Park.

But he went unplaced in a pair of sprint stakes to kick off his current campaign before winning the one-mile, $75,000 Budweiser-Emerald Handicap on June 17. Makors Mark then disappointed as the favorite in the nine-furlong Lieutenant Governor's Handicap at Hastings on July 1, finishing fourth to Rampaging Alf.

Makors Mark was therefore sent off as just the 5-2 second choice in the Mt. Rainier to Crowning Meeting, the even-money favorite in the field of six, but he made his presence felt from the start. Makors Mark pushed the pace of Boulder Hwy through six furlongs in 1:10.80, surged to a 2 1/2-length lead with a furlong to go, and persevered to score by a length over the fast-finishing Kittys Link in a brisk 1:42.

"He broke slowly and got boxed in at Hastings, so he never got comfortable," said rider Gary Baze, referring to the Lieutenant Governor's. "Today he got away cleanly and showed what he can do. He's a free-running horse and he wants to run his own race. When he gets to do that, he is very tough to beat."

Having won the two richest races thus far at the Emerald meeting for older horses, there is little question that Makors Mark is the divisional leader. Can he make it a clean sweep with a victory in the Mile?

"It always depends on who ships in, but I think he has as good a chance as any of the Northwest horses," said Baze, who has ridden a record five Mile winners. "He is the kind of horse who could win it."

Trainer Dave Forster elaborated on Baze's final comment.

"It usually takes a horse who has some versatility to win the Mile," Forster said. "He has to have enough speed to stay fairly close to a quick pace and still go on and finish. He can't be a pure sprinter or a pure router. He has to be a good miler.

"I think Makors Mark qualifies on all those counts. I think he has what it takes. But his chances still depend a lot on how good the shippers are."

Ippodamia blossoms in second start

Last Saturday's $36,000 filly division of the Northwest Stallion Stakes unveiled a new star when Ippodamia, the second-longest shot in the six-horse field at odds of 5-1, posted an authoritative five-length win over Midnight Margie in 1:18.60 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

It was just the second start for Ippodamia, a homebred daughter of Peterhof and Timely Bet who races for Rick and Sharon Pasko of Kent, Wash. In her first start, Ippodamia finished a distant fourth to Strikes No Spares in a maiden special weight race on June 23.

"I was very disappointed with her that day," said trainer Junior Coffey. "She had worked so aggressively in the mornings, but she fell apart under the pressure of a race.

"She has given me difficulties all along, but I always thought she was a good filly and I would have been disappointed if she hadn't won today. She was a lot better today, so maybe she will continue to come along and be what I thought she was."

Apprentice moves to New Jersey

Apprentice jockey Jennifer Whitaker wrapped up her Emerald Downs stint with a flourish last weekend, winning three races on Saturday and two on Sunday to move into sixth in the standings with 37 wins.

Monday, Whitaker left for New Jersey's Monmouth Park, where she will ride through the current meeting, which ends on Sept. 2, before moving on to the Meadowlands. Whitaker, who will have her apprentice allowance until January, will be represented by agent Joey DiAngelo, who formerly handled Julie Krone's book.