12/04/2003 12:00AM

'Pride' tied up before loss

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Americas Pride simply ran too badly to be true in the six-furlong Lassie Stakes for 2-year-old fillies here on Nov. 22, when she finished a distant sixth of nine to Quiz the Maid as the 3-5 favorite.

Trainer Linda Northam can explain why.

"She tied up in the post parade," said Northam. "I thought she was traveling a little funny at the time, and after the race she was in quite a bit of distress."

"Tying up" is the equine equivalent to a full-body charley horse in a human. Called "acute rhabdomyolysis" by veterinarians, the cause of the muscle cramping is poorly understood, but it has been associated with a buildup of lactic acid in muscle tissue. It is neither very common nor rare, and it can vary in severity from mild stiffness to a life-threatening condition. Even in its mildest form, however, it can prevent a horse from running to his or her ability.

Fortunately, the problem can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, tranquilizers, and IV fluids, and it can often be prevented from recurring by an adjustment in diet. Northam reported that she has changed Americas Pride's feed, and the filly seems to be responding.

"She is back in training now, and she seems to be fine," said the trainer. "Our plan is to train her up to the Jane Driggers Debutante [at six furlongs on Dec. 13] and see how she handles it. We probably won't decide whether to run her or not until the last minute. Either way, we'll turn her out after that race."

Americas Pride, a daughter of Baquero from the Avenue of Flags mare Americas Avenue, has had a busy juvenile campaign. She has won four of her 10 starts, including the Knights Choice Stakes at Emerald and the Janet Wineberg Stakes at Portland Meadows.

'Runaway' siblings up for sale

Owners Troy Lange and Dan Miller pulled off quite a coup when they purchased Runaway Briartic for only $4,500 at last year's Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association summer yearling sale at Emerald Downs. Runaway Briartic, who is by the late Son of Briartic, remained undefeated after posting an easy win in Saturday's Columbia River Stakes in just his second start, and his future appears to be extremely bright.

Because of Runaway Briartic's heroics, buyers may have to pay a bit more for his half-brother and half-sister at Sunday's WTBA winter mixed sale.

The half-brother is a weanling by Katowice who will sell as hip 29, while the half-sister is a yearling by Jazzing Around who goes as hip 103. Both are out of the Bet Big mare Runaway Big, whose three previous foals have all been winners. Runaway Big won two races herself, and she is a half-sister to four horses who earned more than $100,000, including Marcie's Ensign, a graded stakes winner of $408,705.

A total of 202 horses and eight stallion shares were cataloged for Sunday's sale, but 19 of the horses and one of the stallion shares have been withdrawn. For a listing, contact the WTBA at (253) 288-7878.

Surcharge on offtrack bets is lifted

Portland Meadows has announced that it will lift the 5 percent surcharge at all 18 of Oregon's offtrack betting facilities throughout December.

The surcharge has been split between the track, which received 2 percent, and the OTBs, which received 3 percent. The track will forgo its share and reimburse the OTBs for two-thirds of their share during December.

General manager Jeff Grady said the move is intended as a "holiday present" for the track's OTB customers. He said it is part of the track's effort to increase business throughout the state.

Some OTB customers, unhappy with both the cost and inconvenience of the surcharge, have shifted their business to account wagering in recent years. Lifting the surcharge is in part an attempt to recapture that business.

Stallion seasons to be auctioned

The Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Association will hold its annual stallion season auction at Portland Meadows on Oregon-bred Day, Dec. 13. Proceeds from the silent auction are divided equally between the purse for the OTBA Stallion Stakes and the OTBA's sale bonus fund, which provides a bonus for any horse able to win both the OTBA Sale Stakes and the Oregon Futurity. Houston Shuffle, who won this year's Sale Stakes, will shoot for that bonus, which is now $25,000, when he contests the Futurity on Oregon-bred Day.

A total of 32 stallion seasons will be offered at auction, including breedings to Oregon-based stallions Abstract and Baquero, Washington-based stallions Cisco Road and Snowbound, and California-based stallion Highland Gold.

Track tries to cut time between races

Portland Meadows began employing "Quick Official" procedures on Monday in an attempt to reduce the time between races. Quick official requires riders to lodge foul claims with outriders, who relay the claims to the stewards via radio. When there are no claims of foul, the results can be made official and the payoffs posted faster.

* Leading rider Juan Gutierrez equaled the second-biggest win total on a Portland Meadows card on Monday when he won six of the nine races. The record of seven wins on a card is held by Joe Crispin.