02/23/2008 1:00AM

Nance has Baquero Ruler going strong


PORTLAND, Ore. – Baquero Ruler heads a field of seven older runners, each eligible to be claimed for $8,000, in Monday’s one-mile Portland Meadows feature.

Baquero Ruler, a 4-year-old from the barn of trainer Jonathan Nance, enjoyed his finest moment on Oregon Championship Day, Dec. 9, when he led throughout the 1 1/16-mile Oregon His Stakes to prevail by more than five lengths. He has since made two starts against older horses, winning a six-furlong test for $8,000 claimers in January and coming back to finish third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Alabama Rain, in a one-mile allowance test on Feb. 5. Clark Jones will take over the mount on Monday, as regular rider Joe Crispin has opted to stick with Rock the Stone.

Rock the Stone has won 5 of 7 starts at the meeting, all in route races. He began the stand with four straight wins over $4,000 rivals, then ran second for a $6,250 tag before defeating $8,000 foes on Dec. 18. He is coming off a third-place finish behind Red E to Go and Pioneering Pro – both of whom he will meet again on Monday – in a mile and 70-yard event for $8,000 claimers on Jan. 14. Rock the Stone, a 9-year-old from the barn of trainer Armando Rodriguez, will share top weight of 123 pounds with Baquero Ruler and Red E to Go.

Former class horses Derby Rider and Crimson Design will be trying to get back on track after a series of subpar efforts. Derby Rider won last year’s Portland Meadows Mile, while Crimson Design was victorious in last season’s Governor’s Speed Handicap at six furlongs.