02/18/2004 12:00AM

Most to try mile for first time

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Six 3-year-old fillies, five of whom will be attempting a mile for the first time, meet in Friday's Portland Meadows allowance feature.

Under Desert Skies is the lone member of the field to have tried a mile, winning an $8,000 maiden claimer at the distance in her last start. She went wire-to-wire, hanging on determinedly to win by a head, but she will have to come from off the pace to win this race.

Ms Lady Palace just beat two of her rivals here - Wampum Wager and Belle Fourche - and looms the one to catch. She dueled for the lead early with odds-on favorite Belle Fourche, took over on the turn and pulled away in a six-furlong allowance race on Jan. 26.

The runner-up in last fall's Lassie Stakes, Ms Lady Palace is the lone member of the field to record two victories. Belle Fourche did beat her, however, in the Jane Driggers Debutante, with Wampum Wager running second and Ms Lady Palace fifth on a sloppy track.

One mile should suit Wampum Wager well, and she should be able to get a good trip behind Ms Lady Palace. Before stopping badly in the $10,000 Ms Stakes on Feb. 7, Wampum Wager had turned in a solid series of races, finishing second to Belle Fourche in the Driggers and second to Ms Lady Palace in the allowance sprint.

'Fame' looks formidable

In Search of Fame figures to be a heavy favorite as he guns for his third straight victory in the $6,000 Portland Meadows Championship at 440 yards.

An 8-year-old Quarter Horse, In Search of Fame has 26 victories in 43 starts and has won seven of his past nine starts here.