01/05/2006 12:00AM

Nance entry formidable in stakes

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Trainer Jonathan Nance sends out a powerful entry of Cascades Express and Lawanda in Saturday's $10,000 Mt. St. Helens Stakes at a mile, which has drawn a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.

Cascades Express, a robust daughter of Cascadian, has already won two stakes from four starts at this meeting and might be the stronger half of the entry. Cascades Express won the six-furlong Bill Wineberg Stakes in November, and she is coming off a 3 1/2-length score in the six-furlong Jane Driggers Debutante just last weekend. Cascades Express does her best running from off the pace, and her stablemate figures to ensure a legitimate pace for her to target.

Lawanda, a well-bred daughter of Pioneering, is still a maiden after two starts, but she met tough maiden special weight company at Emerald Downs and Golden Gate. In her most recent try, on Nov. 25 at Golden Gate, Lawanda showed the way through a fast half-mile in 45 seconds before yielding to three rivals. She shipped here late last week, and Nance expects a big try from her on Saturday.

The main threat to the favored entry might come from Royal Snowflight, who upset Cascades Express in the six-furlong Lassie Stakes here on Dec. 4. It was the second straight win for Royal Snowflight, who graduated by 12 1/2 lengths in her previous outing, and trainer Dave Runyon hopes she will be able to extend her string while stretching out to a mile.