04/15/2003 11:00PM

Mr. Fix cuts back in distance

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Mr. Fix takes on six other $3,200 claimers in the one-mile feature Friday at Portland Meadows.

Mr. Fix appeared to be the one to beat in the track's popular marathon series after he posted an 8 1/2-length win over $4,000 claimers in a 1 1/16-mile race in January. But he faded to third in a division of the 1 1/8-mile first leg of the series and then stopped badly in both the 1 1/4-mile leg and the 1 1/2-mile leg, which was run on April 6. Rather than continue with Mr. Fix through the series' two-mile conclusion on April 27, owner Ben Root and trainer Cookie Root have elected to shorten him up to a mile, apparently concluding he does not want extended distances.

Mr. Fix, a 4-year-old son of Trick Question, boasts a record of three wins from eight tries at a mile and fits nicely at the $3,200 level. He should rebound with a solid effort on Friday if he has not been discouraged by his marathon experiences.

The lead may be as important to Mr. Fix as the distance, so Theycallmecolonel's presence in Friday's headliner complicates his task. Theycallmecolonel, like Mr. Fix, is a confirmed front-runner who is coming off a sharp 3 3/4-length victory under Friday's conditions on April 4.

Should Mr. Fix and Theycallmecolonel exhaust themselves in a battle for the early advantage, Moe Boots will be the prime beneficiary. Moe Boots has won three of his last four outings from well off the pace, including a victory over $2,500 rivals at 1 1/16 miles on March 28.