07/01/2004 11:00PM

Poker Brad the target for seven


AUBURN, Wash. - Poker Brad will carry high weight of 119 pounds, including leading rider Ricky Frazier, when he takes on seven rivals in Sunday's $40,000 Independence Day Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

A 6-year-old son of Go for Gin trained by Tim McCanna, Poker Brad was among the top handicap horses on the grounds last year, when he won the nine-furlong Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup and finished second to Sky Jack in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. He has raced just three times this year, finishing second in the Portland Meadows Mile in April, then winning a mile allowance test here in May before dropping a head decision to Demon Warlock in the Budweiser Emerald Handicap on June 20.

Poker Brad is expected to face his sternest challenge from Metatron, who invades from Canada after posting an impressive four-length allowance win going 6 1/2 furlongs at Hastings Park on June 20. Metatron has one win in six tries at 1 1/16 miles. The victory came last spring at Golden Gate, when he led throughout to defeat $100,000 optional claiming company in 1:41.40. Former Longacres rider Chad Hoverson will venture from Hastings Park to accept the mount at 117 pounds.

Also dangerous is Mr. Makah, a rapidly improving 4-year-old from the barn of trainer Bonnie Jenne. Mr. Makah, a full brother to Washington Cup Classic winner Colony Lane, is coming off a sharp win over allowance rivals when trying a mile for the first time June 19.