05/19/2005 11:00PM

Poker Brad makes rare sprint start


AUBURN, Wash. - Poker Brad will launch his 7-year-old campaign as the 119-pound highweight in Sunday's $40,000 Fox Sports Net Handicap at Emerald Downs.

Poker Brad earned his highweight package with eight wins, three of them in stakes, from 35 starts for $374,165 in earnings. He is not expected to be favored, however, in the field of eight going 6 1/2 furlongs because he will be attempting a sprint distance for only the third time.

Trained by Tim McCanna throughout his career, Poker Brad debuted against maiden special weight company in 2001 at 6 1/2 furlongs, finishing a distant last of 10. Later in his 3-year-old year, he tried six furlongs against $40,000 optional claimers and again finished last of six, but was beaten only five lengths.

Poker Brad now qualifies as a route horse sprinting fresh, however, and McCanna sharpened his speed with a bullet three-furlong workout in 34.60 seconds on Friday morning.

Sabertooth, who returned from a layoff of 19 months to run a bang-up second in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap on April 24, is the likely favorite. Sabertooth dueled through a half-mile in 43.60 and then opened a three-length lead in the stretch before yielding late to Slewicide Cruise, who has since been sidelined by an injury.

The 7-year-old Sabertooth will be reunited with Nate Chaves, who rode him to victory in the 2002 Longacres Mile.