03/11/2005 12:00AM

Quartern to shoot for big money

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Quartern answered one question but posed another with her authoritative six-length victory on March 5 in the one-mile Mary Goldblatt Stakes for Oregon-bred 3-year-old fillies.

In winning for the fourth time from five starts, Quartern definitively demonstrated that she has no problem handling two turns. Now, what does she do for an encore?

There is no shortage of options. She could stay within her division here at Portland Meadows and run in the one-mile Mt. St. Helens on March 26 and the 1 1/16-mile Oregon Oaks on April 16, but both of those races have purses of only $7,500. Alternatively, she could take on the boys in the 1 1/8-mile Oregon Derby on April 2, which has a purse of $15,000. Finally, she could skip all of the local races and run in the six-furlong U. S. Bank Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs on April 17, for a purse of $40,000.

Owner Al Peterson and trainer Ben Root were undecided in the immediate aftermath of the Mary Goldblatt, but by early this week they had worked out a plan.

"We're going to point for the U. S. Bank Stakes and use the Oaks as a backup," said Root. "We just feel that she is really good now, so this is the time to go for the big purse. We'll enter both races, though, and if the U. S. Bank Stakes comes up too tough, we'll go in the Oaks."

Root said a key factor in his decision is that Quartern, who is a handful in the paddock, is familiar with Emerald Downs.

"I'd be really nervous about taking her somewhere new, but she trained at Emerald for three months last summer," he said. "She was actually better behaved up there than she has been here, though we never took her to the paddock for an actual race."

Quartern never has appeared nervous or frightened in the paddock. She doesn't wash out or show the whites of her eyes. But she is rambunctious. Though Root had three other fillies to saddle for the Goldblatt, he brought along four assistants to help him saddle Quartern.

"I had the groom, the valet, my brother, and my dad," said Root. "I didn't know my dad would be there, so I didn't really need my brother, but with this filly I'll take all the help I can get."

Crimson Design in Governor's Speed

The most recent example of a local horse winning an Emerald Downs stakes is Crimson Design, who won last year's Auburn Stakes in Seattle after two easy wins over this track. Crimson Design made his first start as a 4-year-old here last Sunday, in a 3 1/2-length score over the razor-sharp Something Clever in a 5 1/2-furlong invitational handicap. Crimson Design was timed in 1:05 under regular rider Juan Gutierrez.

"It was just what I was hoping for," said trainer Jim Fergason. "He had to run a little to get clear, but he ended up winning easy, and I don't think it took much out of him. It was a nice prep."

Crimson Design is scheduled to race next in the six-furlong Governor's Speed Handicap next Saturday. With another good effort, he would be pointed to the $20,000 Portland Meadows Mile on April 9.

Judging from his performance last Sunday, Crimson Design should be tough to beat in the Governor's Speed. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85, 3 points higher than his best Beyer as a 3-year-old, and he was hand-ridden to the wire.

Doll newest Emerald steward

There will be two new faces in the stewards' stand at the upcoming Emerald Downs meeting. Tom Rainey, a steward in Washington since 1987, submitted his resignation last month and will be replaced by Ken Doll. Doll, a former rider, most recently served as clerk of scales at Emerald. The Washington Horse Racing Commission is currently advertising for a new clerk of scales.

Steve Hiatt, who resigned as steward in November, will be replaced by former trainer and mutuels inspector Thelma Lynn.

Doug Moore will be the only holdover among the Emerald stewards, and Moore will serve as presiding steward at the 2005 meeting, which begins April 15.

Ruis book goes to Delnick

Agent Mike Delnick said that he will book mounts for Mick Ruis this season at Emerald Downs. Ruis, who turns 18 a day before the meet opens, won 79 races at Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Santa Anita during a highly successful apprenticeship that began in June of 2003. He is currently riding as a journeyman at Turf Paradise, where he ranks second in the rider standings with 69 wins from 351 mounts.

Delnick said Ruis will ride at Turf Paradise through the last weekend in March, then begin galloping horses in Seattle in preparation for the Emerald meet.

Delnick will also handle the book for Gary Baze. Baze, who has won more races in Washington than any rider, is fully recovered from injuries suffered at Turf Paradise and will begin galloping at Emerald on March 20, according to his agent.

Auction boosts lobbying

An auction held in conjunction with the March 5 awards banquet raised just over $15,000, according to Dave Benson, president of the Oregon Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. The money will be used for lobbying efforts to support a bill currently before the state legislature that is considered crucial for the future of Oregon's Thoroughbred industry.

The bill, Senate Bill 929, would permit Portland Meadows, which is now allowed to simulcast only during its live meet, to conduct simulcast wagering on a year-round basis. The measure is scheduled for its first hearing before the Senate Government Committee at 3 p.m. on March 22.