06/24/2004 11:00PM

'Nugget' right back in stakes

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AUBURN, Wash. - Millenium Nugget will rejoin the stakes ranks Sunday, when he takes on seven other 3-year-olds in the one-mile, $50,000 Tacoma Handicap at Emerald Downs.

A son of He's Tops from the barn of trainer Robbie Baze, Millenium Nugget was regarded as one of Emerald's top juveniles last season, when he won two of three starts, including the six-furlong Captain Condo Stakes. He prepped for Sunday's engagement in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race May 30, coming from 11 lengths back under Gary Baze to finish fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by On the Ave in 1:15.60.

"I thought he ran well, and Gary was really excited about riding him back in the stakes," said Robbie Baze. "I would have preferred to get one more prep race into him, but the timing didn't work out. I decided to train him into this race rather than risk running him too close to the stakes."

Favoritism in the Tacoma is expected to be contested between Northwest Attitude and Pool Boy, the top two finishers in the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola Handicap on May 31, and On the Ave, who is undefeated after two impressive outings.

Also dangerous is Random Memo, who has an edge in route experience over most of Sunday's field. Random Memo ran third in last year's WTBA Lads Stakes at a mile and finished sixth after a troubled trip in last season's Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles. He has sprinted twice in preparation for Sunday's stretchout, finishing second in the six-furlong Auburn Handicap and fifth in the Pepsi-Cola.