03/13/2012 4:35PM

Portland Meadows: Route Claiming Series finals analysis


Veteran Castle Pines seeks his 20th lifetime win in the $25,000 Portland Meadows Route Claiming Series Starter Stakes and, at the ripe old age of 9, it would be his biggest. With the capable assistance of red-hot jockey Eliska Kubinova, who recently won six races on one card, Castle Pines will likely set his own fractions in the 1 1/4-mile race and that could be decisive.

However, the other nine qualifiers in the event will do what they can do to mow Castle Pines down. They are led by proven closers Doctor Pav, Simperio, and Capella Etoile, who all appear advantaged by the stretch-out to 10 furlongs.

[PORTLAND MEADOWS: Get PPs, watch claiming series finals live]

Doctor Pav, claimed for $4,000 out of his Feb. 20 qualifying leg by Clockwise Racing, is an honest sort and should save ground from his inside berth under Debbie Hoonan. Now handled by high-percentage trainer Jonathan Nance, Doctor Pav could find the necessary improvement to take top honors.

Simperio, a comparatively lightly raced 5-year-old with just 18 lifetime starts, found his best stride at the end of his Feb. 20 qualifier when third, beaten just three-quarters of a length. Notably, he was reclaimed by owners The Kids and trainer Jim Fergason, who must certainly think he fits at this marathon distance.

Capella Etoile, although the winner of just one race in his 17-race career, always fires and the added distance may be what he has been wanting. Owner-trainer Gilbert Daniels dipped in and took him for $4,000 on Feb. 20 to find out if that is the case.

Among the others, Turntable Bay, who gets back his favorite pilot in Juan Gutierrez, and Meshaguna, a disappointing favorite in both legs of the series to date, hope to reverse their form at the right time for their connections.

The field is rounded out by the durable Watch Your Money, the lone mare Tribute to Sissy, longshot Little Mordi, and the admirable 13-year-old West Seattle Boy.