02/07/2004 1:00AM

Mt. Vista should like steep drop


PORTLAND, Ore. - Mt. Vista, who ran a surprisingly strong second to Yesss last time out in the nine-furlong William Kyne Handicap on Jan. 24, is the one to beat when he heads a field of seven $8,000 claimers in Monday's one-mile feature at Portland Meadows.

While Mt. Vista is now dropping sharply in class, he was stepping up even more steeply when he contested the Kyne. Mt. Vista, a 5-year-old trained by Ben Root, made his Portland Meadows debut for a $2,500 tag on Nov. 11. He won that six-furlong race by almost four lengths, then stepped up to the $5,000 claiming level while stretching out to a mile on Dec. 15 and defeated Thunder Zoot by more than two lengths.

Root then entered Mt. Vista in the $10,000 Kyne, which seemed to have little depth beyond Yesss, and saw his horse close from fifth in the field of seven to finish second, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by the heavy favorite.

Thunder Zoot, who finished a distant fourth in the Kyne, will be back to challenge Mt. Vista again. Between his second to Mt. Vista and his fourth in the Kyne, Thunder Zoot posted a sharp win against $6,250 claimers at a mile on Dec. 27.

Monday's feature will mark the return of Produckson, who was one of the stars of the popular marathon series at last season's meeting. Produckson won the nine-furlong leg of the series for $4,000 starter allowance company, then finished fourth at 10 furlongs, second at 12 furlongs, and third at two miles before being turned out in April. He returns with a string of bullet works and could be ready to fire at first asking.