11/10/2005 1:00AM

No easy bonus for Riley Beaver


Riley Beaver is halfway to earning a $30,000 bonus after winning last Saturday's $12,000 OTBA Sales Stakes at Portland Meadows. Granted, he completed the easier part of the journey in the Sales Stakes, a restricted race that drew a largely undistinguished field of seven graduates of Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Association sales. To pocket the bonus, which is funded by an annual auction of breeding seasons to Oregon-based stallions, Riley Beaver will need to defeat much tougher foes in the $40,000 Os West Oregon Futurity at a mile on Oregon Championship Day, Dec. 17.

"I'm not counting the money quite yet," said trainer Ben Root. "He benefited from a pretty hot speed duel in the stallion stakes, and they crawled the last furlong in 15 seconds. Still, he's the only horse who can win that bonus, and he does figure to improve around two turns."

A 2-year-old son of Baquero and Precious Priss, Riley Beaver was bred by Root's parents, Jack and Cookie Root, and he races for Cookie Root. That, however, was not the original plan.

"We actually sold Riley Beaver's mother at the OTBA sale when she was carrying him, and that was how he became eligible for the Sales Stakes," said Jack Root. "The buyer never paid for him, though, so he was returned to us two or three months later and we decided to race him ourselves. There would be a sort of rough justice to it if he ended up winning the bonus."

Riley Beaver, who is named for Oregon State University football coach Mike Riley, is eligible to run in the $20,000 Bill Wineberg Stakes at six furlongs on Nov. 19, but Ben Root said he is inclined to skip that engagement and train Riley Beaver into the Futurity.

"I've got four other horses for the Bill Wineberg, and at least a couple of them look to be better sprinters than Riley Beaver," said Ben Root. "If he is going to be a factor in the rest of the stakes program, it will be in the longer races."

Tamper continues to improve

Tamper, who surprisingly finished second to Eastern Accent in his Portland Meadows debut in the Inaugural Handicap, took another step forward Saturday, when he led throughout to win the $7,500 Polynesian Flyer overnight handicap.

Under a heady ride from Jose Zunino, Tamper opened a clear lead in the opening strides and backed up the pace through a half-mile in 49, then withstood a prolonged challenge from Silent Exploit to prevail by a length. Last season's horse of the meeting, My Friend Dave, loomed boldly on the turn, but flattened out late to finish third in just his second start since April. Tamper completed the mile in 1:40.

"We got a little help when nobody went out with him early, but he ran a really good race, and I think it will do him a lot of good," said Tamper's trainer, Jim Fergason. "He was cut out to be a nice horse, but he hadn't won in quite a while. The win should help him get his confidence back."

Winning will do that, and it will also help to reignite an owner's interest. Owner David Green admitted that his own interest in racing was starting to lag after a syndicate of which he was a part made a series of disappointing claims last summer at Emerald Downs.

"I was so discouraged that I was ready to get out of racing," said Green. "Then I decided to hook up with Jim Fergason and give it one more shot. He claimed Tamper for me in early August, then a week later he claimed Colony Lane for me. Both of those horses have really come around, and now I'm all jazzed up again. This game is a lot of fun when you're winning."

Fergason said Tamper will go next in the 1 1/16-mile William Kyne Handicap on Nov. 26, when he will likely be rematched with Silent Exploit and My Friend Dave. Trainer Corky Caron said he expects a much better showing from My Friend Dave in the Kyne.

"I was hoping he would show more on Saturday, but he had been off for six months and he was racing over a deep track," said Caron. "He just got tired. He came out of it well, though, and he should be ready to run his best race in the Kyne."

Caron said leading rider Javier Ortega has agreed to ride My Friend Dave in the Kyne.

La Kangura returning on week's rest

Owner Juan Leon said La Kangura, who pulled off a 24-1 upset in Sunday's $21,000 Northwest Open Futurity for 2-year-old Quarter Horses, will come back in this Sunday's $10,000 Oregon-bred Futurity at 400 yards.

"I was going to run her back in that race anyway because she is an Oregon-bred, but now I'll have a lot more confidence," he said.

La Kangura was the ninth qualifier for the Northwest Open Futurity after finishing fifth in one of the two trials, which included only 12 horses. Nonetheless, she won off by two lengths over Time to Fly Strait in 20.47 for 400 yards.

"She broke bad from the rail post in the trial, and that just killed her," said Leon. "I thought she could do a lot better than that, but I was very surprised she was able to win so easily."