07/28/2005 11:00PM

Poker Brad seeks third Mt. Rainier

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AUBURN, Wash. - Poker Brad will attempt to win a third straight renewal of the $100,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup on Sunday when he heads a select field of six at Emerald Downs.

The Mt. Rainier shares the spotlight with the $40,000 Governor's Handicap on Emerald's inaugural Mile Preview Day card. Nearly all of the Northwest hopefuls for the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 21 will run in either the 1 1/8-mile Mt. Rainier or the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's.

Poker Brad, a 7-year-old who has earned over $404,000 for trainer Tim McCanna and partners, prepped for his Mt. Rainier defense with a stirring neck victory over Flamethrowintexan in the 1 1/16-mile Independence Day Handicap on July 3. McCanna said his stable star is coming into Sunday's race in excellent shape despite a close call early this week.

"He got loose from the hotwalker and nearly gave me a heart attack," said McCanna. "I think he did three furlongs in about 35 seconds down my shed row. Honestly, it horrified me, but he didn't do any harm to himself. He's ready."

Flamethrowintexan represents the biggest obstacle to Poker Brad's Mt. Rainier hat trick. Flamethrowintexan, who was last year's top 3-year-old here, just failed to hold off Poker Brad in the Independence Day, in only his second start of the year.

He again figures to show the way on Sunday, and trainer Jim Penney said he will be at his best.