12/14/2001 12:00AM

Primadonna Poppy a filly in full bloom


PORTLAND, Ore. - Scott Freeman started training under his own name just this fall, and he saddled his first winner Nov. 10, when Phenomenal Times won at Portland Meadows. Despite those limited credentials, on Sunday Freeman will saddle the possible favorite, Primadonna Poppy, in the $7,500-added City of Roses Handicap.

Freeman, 30, who worked for trainers Bud Klokstad, Doris Harwood, and Dave Forster before taking out his own license, claimed Primadonna Poppy out of a $12,500 sprint at Emerald Downs in August for One Horse Will Do Corp. He took the 3-year-old daughter of Slewdledo to Hastings Park after the Emerald meet closed, and she netted a second and a third from three starts at the $20,000 level. He then brought her here and she ran third in the Diane Kem Handicap at five furlongs Nov. 11.

Those races built the foundation for Primadonna Poppy's most recent outing Dec. 2, when she was part of a tough field consisting mostly of older males in a six-furlong allowance race. Primadonna Poppy responded with a breakthrough performance, coming from just off the pace to win by a widening 5 1/2 lengths in 1:13.81.

"She really put everything together that day," said Freeman's wife, Kathy, who shares the training duties with her husband. "She was pretty much a one-dimensional speed horse when Scott claimed her, but he has been trying to teach her to relax and she did that beautifully in her last race."

Having mastered rating tactics, Primadonna Poppy will attempt to clear another hurdle when she goes a mile for the first time on Sunday.

"She is out of a Traveling Victor mare, so she is actually bred to route," said Kathy Freeman. "She is built like a sprinter, though, and she has so much natural speed that nobody has thought to send her long. This will be a good test for her because she is at the top of her game now and she is relaxing so well. I really think she'll handle a mile, at least, and if she does it will give us a lot more options for her. She'll have a whole new career as a router."

The Freemans have only five horses stabled on the grounds and they have only five starts at the meet, posting two wins, two thirds, and a fourth. But they have an additional 16 head, including 14 soon-to-be 2-year-olds, at Rainfire Ranch in Ravensdale, Wash., and they hope to have them all in action at the next Emerald Downs meeting.

Emerald gets 91 days again

Emerald Downs was granted a 91-day meeting for 2002, from April 19 through Sept. 16, at a meeting of the Washington Horse Racing Commission on Thursday. The track also ran 91 days in 2001. The track will race Thursdays through Sundays, plus holidays, with the first post set for 6 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The state's smaller tracks were also granted racing dates for 2002. Sun Downs in Kennewick will race Saturdays and Sundays from April 6 through May 5; Walla Walla Frontier Days in Walla Walla will race May 11 and 12 and on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; Days of Real Sport in Waitsburg will race May 18 and 19; and Dayton Days in Dayton will race May 25, 26, and 27.

- The commission announced that undistributed money from simulcasting operations at Spokane's defunct Playfair race course is being held pending bankruptcy proceedings. Being held is $237,000 in purse money, $44,000 in breeders awards, and $67,000 in owners awards. Lilac City Racing Association, which operated Playfair, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation Nov. 5.

- The commission announced it is seeking applications for a chief parimutuel inspector at the state's tracks. The year-around position fell vacant when Sylvia Scott resigned in September to pursue other interests.