07/28/2008 11:00PM

Mt. Rainier pair merit respect


AUBURN, Wash. - The nine-furlong Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs has produced the last two winners of the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile in Flamethrowintexan and The Great Face. In the wake of last Sunday's result, it would appear that the Mt. Rainier has a double-barreled shot at producing the Mile winner for a third straight year.

Chhaya Dance and Wasserman, who finished just a head apart as the one-two finishers, burnished their Mile credentials a great deal in the Mt. Rainier. It wasn't that they hung up an impressive time. In fact, their clocking of 1:48.80 was the slowest since the Mt. Rainier distance was increased to 1 1/8 miles in 2002.

Both the winner and the runner-up bucked a potent speed bias, however, and Wasserman did so at a distance that was well beyond his best. Wasserman, a 6-year-old son of Cahill Road who races for trainer Howard Belvoir, was winless in 17 tries around two turns going into the Mt. Rainier. He simply didn't look effective enough going long to be considered a Mile contender. After just missing at 1 1/8 miles, that knock no longer seems to apply.

Chhaya Dance, a son of A. P. Indy who races for Ron Judy's Three Sisters Thoroughbreds, is bred to go nine furlongs and farther. He had never been asked to go beyond a mile in nine previous starts, however, and he was coming off a series of sprints.

"He's got the pedigree behind him, but the way I brought him into this race was kind of a joke," said Chambers. "It's not easy to go from 6o1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. I was asking a lot of him."

Chhaya Dance's task got even tougher when he veered out at the start after breaking from the outside post in a field of eight, which put him both farther off the pace and wider on the first turn than Chambers and rider Seth Martinez had planned. The fact that he won despite those obstacles adds luster to his effort.

Chambers, who won three races from four starters on Sunday's card, said he will probably have two starters for the Aug. 17 running of the Longacres Mile. Besides Chhaya Dance, Chambers will send out Seattle Handicap and Budweiser-Emerald Handicap winner Nationhood, who sat out the Mt. Rainier. Chambers said a potential third Mile starter, Lord Avalon, is sidelined with a bruised foot.

Lord Avalon, who ran second in the July 1 Lt. Governor's at Hastings, joins 2006 Mile winner Flamethrowintexan and Budweiser-Emerald runner-up Westsideclyde on the unable to perform list for this year's Mile. All three have the same ailment, having bruised a foot during a workout.

Shampoo regains her best form

The real Shampoo reappeared in last Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Boeing Handicap for fillies and mares. After going winless in three stakes appearances at the meeting, Shampoo looked a lot more like the filly who dominated her division last year at 3 with four stakes wins.

Under Seth Martinez, who was riding Shampoo for the first time, Shampoo took the lead at the start, yielded to She's All Silk on the backstretch and then came again to post a 2 3/4-length score over Eclatante in 1:43.40.

"The difference this time was that she caught a track she liked and she got a good trip," said trainer Doris Harwood. "She didn't like the deep track in her first stakes this season, and she was too wide and too far back in her last two. We decided to put her into the race early this time, and that seemed to keep her interested. She wants to be in contention at the top of the lane, and Seth did a good job of putting her where she wants to be."

Harwood said that Shampoo appears to be peaking physically, and just in time. She goes next in the $100,000 Emerald Distaff on Longacres Mile Day, the richest race for fillies and mares on the Emerald schedule.

The big disappointment in the Boeing was Firetrail, who was bet down to 4-5 off her authoritative victory in the July 4 King County Handicap at a mile. Firetrail stalked the pace in good position, but faded through the stretch to finish fifth of six.

Martinez collects six wins on card

Martinez enjoyed a banner day on Sunday. Not only did he win both stakes, he won four other races to become just the second rider in Emerald history to win six times on a single card. Kevin Radke was the first to accomplish the feat on Sept. 2, 2002.

Though he missed the first month of this meeting with an injured foot, Martinez now ranks third in the rider standings with 62 wins from 298 mounts (21 percent). Radke tops the standings with 80 wins and Ricky Frazier, who was last year's champ, has 69 wins.

Martinez, a 29-year-old native of New Mexico, has won four riding titles at Canterbury and two at Turf Paradise. He rode 144 wins to take the title at the most recent Turf Paradise meet.