11/30/2001 12:00AM

Portland business up as EPA deadline nears

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Portland Meadows recorded the highest weekly handle of its current meeting last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when a total of $399,345 was handled on the track's live races for an average of $133,115 for the three days. The surge in betting brought the average daily handle through 15 days of live racing to $100,418, which is up better than 30 percent from the same period last season. Track president Arthur McFadden said attendance and concession sales are up commensurately, and that the track's new operator, MEC Oregon Racing Inc., is generally pleased with the progress of the meeting.

Problems persist, however, with the track's proposed new storm-water retention system. The track had to promise to have that system completed by Feb. 15 before the Environmental Protection Agency would agree to allow horses on the grounds in October, but delays in the permitting process have dimmed prospects for meeting that deadline.

"Some EPA officials have indicated that we won't be penalized if it is clear we are making a good-faith effort and have made substantial progress," said McFadden. "But there is nothing in writing to that effect and that makes our lawyers nervous."

A worst-case scenario if the deadline isn't met would force the track to remove all horses from the grounds or face fines of $27,500 per day.

State of the Hastings union

Hastings Park in Vancouver, B.C., has been granted an 89-day race meet stretching from April 20 through Nov. 3 in 2002. Racing will be conducted on Wednesday evenings and Saturday, Sunday, and holiday Monday afternoons, with first post at 5:53 p.m. on Wednesdays and 1:23 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The 2002 meet will feature stakes with more than $2 million in added money, including the $200,000 British Columbia Derby on Saturday, Sept. 21, and seven B.C. Cup stakes to be run Aug. 3-5.

Defensive Play to Washington

Jerry and Peggy Woods have announced that the established sire Defensive Play will move to their Woodstead Farm in Chehalis, Wash., for the 2002 breeding season.

Defensive Play, a 14-year-old son of Fappiano and Safe Play, a Grade 1 stakes-winning daughter of Sham, won more than $1.6 million from six wins in 26 starts through the age of 5. Among his five stakes wins were the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont as a 3-year-old and the Grade 1 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita at 4.

Defensive Play stood most recently at Old Frankfort Stud in Kentucky, but he has also shuttled to the southern hemisphere, where he has sired South African champion 3-year-old filly Mythical Play and winners of important stakes in Australia and New Zealand. Members of his six U.S. crops have won more than $7 million and include $539,585 earner Fourth and Six and the current

2-year-old filly Cunning Play, who ran third in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October.

"His pedigree is stamina-oriented, but he has proven he can throw good 2-year-olds," said Peggy Woods. "He should cross very well with all the speed mares we have in the Northwest."

* Stephen Walsh of Portland won Portland Meadows's November Handicapping Contest over 81 other entrants. He compiled 27,720 points to earn a top prize of $4,999 from the $10,000 purse. Steve Schpapnky of Eugene got second place with 25,860 points and three others amassed more than 20,000 points, a total that would have won most past contests. The next $10,000 handicapping contest will be staged Feb. 9 and 10.

* Cammie Papineau returned from maternity leave to win three Thoroughbred races and a Quarter Horse race last week. Other hot riders were Felipe Valdez, who booted home six winners over the three days, and leading rider Juan Gutierrez, who had five wins, bringing his total to 18 for through 15 days. Valdez is in second with 14 wins.

* The Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's annual stallion season auction will be held in the Portland Meadows turf club during the races on Dec. 15, which is Oregon-bred Day at the track.

* The Washington Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's Winter Mixed Sale begins at 11 a.m. Sunday in the M. J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Emerald Downs. More than 300 horses are scheduled to pass through the ring.

* The Washington Horse Racing Commission will hold its annual dates meeting on Dec. 13 in the city council chambers at Auburn City Hall. After the commission meets in private to discuss legal questions, the public meeting will begin at 10 a.m.