07/16/2001 11:00PM

Playfair GM seeking to keep track running


AUBURN, Wash. - Playfair has asked the Washington Horse Racing Commission to reconsider its order of July 5, which would strip the Spokane track of its license if it does not raise $300,000 in new capital by midnight on Wednesday, July 18.

In a letter received by the WHRC last Friday, Bruce Wagar, Playfair's newly appointed general manager, admitted that the track's operating company has not secured the capital required to run a live race meet this year. Wagar, however, asked the commission to allow the track to continue to offer simulcasting through 2001, then to consider granting Playfair a live meeting in 2002. Wagar pointed out that the track's chief means of making money to pay its debts, which include $78,000 owed to Autotote and $80,000 owed to other tracks, is simulcasting.

The primary obstacle to Playfair's request is a law that requires tracks to race 40 days in each 12-month period in order to offer simulcasting. Playfair raced 43 days from Sept. 16 through Dec. 17 last year.

Bruce Batson, the commission's executive secretary, speculated that the commission would conduct telephone deliberations upon Playfair's request, then issue a written order. He could not say when that order might be issued.

Crockett exacta in Boeing Handicap

Crossatyourownrisk and Latter Day Paula scored a clean sweep for owner Ron Crockett at Emerald Downs on Sunday, running one-two in the $40,000 Boeing Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. The Crockett-owned entry was slightly favored at 9-5, to 2-1 for Fleet Pacific, but most of the support was probably for Latter Day Paula, who was coming off a 1 1/4-length win in last month's one-mile King County Handicap.

Crossatyourownrisk, who won last year's Washington Oaks, ran a hugely disappointing seventh in the King County, but turned things around Sunday by coming from well back under Javier Matias to score by 4 1/2 lengths over her entrymate in a rapid 1:42.80. Taste the Passion was a neck farther back in third, while Fleet Pacific held fourth after dueling with Canadian invader Grooms Derby through a sizzling half-mile in 45.40 seconds.

"It was nice to have Grooms Derby in the race," said Grant Forster, assistant to his father, Dave Forster, trainer of Crossatyourownrisk. "We really expected Crossatyourownrisk to turn it around today, though. I think the reason she was flat last time was that she blew out a half-mile in 45 and change two days before the race. This time she blew out in 48 and it was a lot easier on her."

Long time between drinks for owner

The winner of Saturday's six-furlong Emerald Express Handicap for 2-year-old colts and geldings was a maiden just eight days earlier. Melcapwalker defeated maiden special weight company for his first win on July 7, then wheeled right back in a week to capture the $35,000 Emerald Express by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:11.80.

Under leading rider Ben Russell, who notched four wins on the day, Melcapwalker rushed up the rail to vie for the early lead with Beat the Klok and Devil's Enemy, dropped back on the turn, then circled the leaders turning for home and drew away while lugging in.

Melcapwalker was the 27th Emerald Downs stakes winner for Klokstad, but the first in nearly 30 years for owner Art McFadden. A native of Corvallis, Ore., McFadden owned Beau Julian, who won the Oregon Futurity, the Oregon Derby, and the Portland Meadows Mile in the early 1970's, but he gave up owning horses to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest while he served as an official for the Oregon Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and Portland Meadows.

"I started buying yearlings again four years ago, and I've got three in training with Bud now," McFadden said. "I'm having a lot of fun, and I'm really excited about this horse. I absolutely love him."

* Harley Hoppe and Associates will sponsor this year's marathon championship series at Emerald Downs. The series will include three races for $10,000 starter allowance company at nine, 10, and 12 furlongs. The nine-furlong leg is scheduled for this Friday, July 20.

* Emerald jockeys will do their part to raise money for the Don MacBeth Fund after the races Sunday at Las Margaritas restaurant near the track. Dressed in silks, the jockeys will be signing autographs, posing for pictures with fans, and selling Don MacBeth baseball caps for $10 apiece.