05/25/2001 11:00PM

Markle has two shots at 'Jumron'

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AUBURN, Wash. - Jumron Won takes on six challengers in Monday's $45,000 Pepsi Cola Handicap, a 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Emerald Downs.

Jumron Won, a son of Jumron from the barn of trainer Bud Klokstad, proved himself the best 2-year-old at Emerald last season when he won three stakes, including the Gottstein Futurity. He picked up where he left off in his 3-year-old debut May 5, winning the six-furlong Auburn Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over Tactical Allusion in a sparkling 1:09. Javier Matias, who was aboard for the Auburn triumph, has the mount aboard Jumron Won at 120 pounds.

Tactical Allusion returns for another crack at the favorite, and he will be joined by his uncoupled stablemate Road Afleet, who has run second in a pair of allowance sprints at the meet. Tactical Allusion has plenty of room for improvement, as he was making just his third career start and his first start at Emerald Downs in the Auburn.

"He is paying more attention now," said trainer Dan Markle. "He still likes to play around - he was bucking and kicking and shadow boxing in the post parade last time - but he is learning to switch leads and run behind horses. He is a big, strong horse, and he gets a little fitter and a little more mature each time he runs.

"Road Afleet is a nice horse, too, but he is completely different than Tactical Allusion. Tactical Allusion is built like a rhinoceros, but Road Afleet is a little jaguar. He hits the ground light, and he is pretty smooth about everything he does."