04/07/2004 11:00PM

Poker Brad puts Mile title on line


PORTLAND, Ore. - Poker Brad will accept a highweight assignment of 123 pounds when he tries to defend his Portland Meadows Mile crown against six challengers in Saturday's 37th running of the track's most prestigious race.

The $40,000 Portland Meadows Mile tops a 10-race program that includes the $10,000 Donna Jensen Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles and the $6,500 Flashaway Owners' Handicap for sprinters at five furlongs.

Poker Brad won last year's Mile by 1 1/4 lengths over Lethal Grande in 1:36.60, just off Star of Kuwait's 1975 track record of 1:36.20. He went on to win the $100,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap at Emerald Downs before finishing second to Sky Jack in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile.

Poker Brad has not raced since Oct. 26, when he was unplaced in the Pacifica Handicap at Bay Meadows, but he has been working steadily and fast since mid-February for trainer Tim McCanna.

Poker Brad may get his sternest opposition from Court's In Session, the second highweight at 120 pounds. Court's In Session, trained by Dennis Ward, is coming off a sharp allowance win at Golden Gate on March 20, when he ran six furlongs in 1:09. When last seen at a mile in September, Court's In Session finished third to $62,500 rivals at Bay Meadows.

Other contenders include Lethal Grande, who was second in last year's Mile; Yesss, a six-time stakes winner over this course; and Steady Smiler, the runner-up in last year's British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park.