07/07/2005 11:00PM

Queenledo didn't need break after all


AUBURN, Wash. - After Queenledo posted her third straight impressive stakes score in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 12, trainer Tim McCanna said he was inclined to give her a break and skip this Sunday's $60,000 Kent Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. In the interim, however, Queenledo has convinced her trainer that she has no need for a rest.

"I thought she'd be a little tired after three big efforts, but that just hasn't been the case," said McCanna. "She has been training with as much enthusiasm as ever. I still think it's kind of a bummer that she only gets to run for $40,000 because she's not eligible for the Northwest Race Series part of the purse, but other than that there isn't any reason not to run her."

McCanna noted that running Queenledo in the Kent will allow her to stretch out gradually to the nine furlongs of the $100,000 Washington Oaks on Aug. 20, though he is not particularly concerned about the filly handling more ground.

"A mile and a sixteenth and even 1 1/8 miles isn't that much different than a mile if a horse will relax, and she has become a real push-button horse," he said. "There's more ground to cover, but the pace isn't as hot, so it's not that much tougher."

At the same time, McCanna said he feels an additional sixteenth will help Queenledo's entrymate, Gins Majesty. A stoutly bred daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, Gins Majesty finished second, beaten two lengths by Queenledo, in the Irish Day.

"I thought she ran a big race, because that was her first route and she was squeezed back on the first turn," said McCanna. "She is bred for distance, and she is improving with every race. She still has a lot to prove, but I don't think we've seen the best from her yet."

McCanna said he will likely split up Queenledo and Gins Majesty after the Kent, running one in the local Oaks and the other in the $150,000-added B.C. Oaks at Hastings on Sept. 4.

Missing shoe didn't slow down Poker Brad

Poker Brad's thrilling victory over Flamethrowintexan in last Sunday's Independence Day Handicap was apparently even better than it first appeared, according to his trainer, McCanna.

"He came back missing his right front shoe, and he must have lost it right out of the gate because he never stumbled during the race," said the trainer. "His foot is a little hot now, but he'll be fine. He didn't tear the wall of his hoof, and that was his problem last year. I always train him in bell boots to protect his feet because he is prone to quarter cracks, but he dodged a bullet this time."

McCanna said last Sunday was the first time that Poker Brad has not trained on the day of a race.

"I've always wanted to take the edge off him, but for that race I wanted him to show a little more speed," he said. "After the way he ran, I don't think I'll be training him on the morning of his races anymore."

A Classic Life to come back in Kent

The Kent Handicap will mark the return to Emerald Downs of A Classic Life, who was named the top 2-year-old filly on the grounds last season after winning all three of her starts. A Classic Life, a daughter of Sky Classic who is trained by Grant Forster, has raced twice this year, both times at Arlington Park. She finished a distant seventh in an overnight handicap at six furlongs on May 14, then ran sixth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by stablemate Rugula, in a mile turf stakes on June 19.

"She just never picked up the bit in her first race back there, so we tested her blood and we found she was carrying an infection," said Forster. "We got that cleared up and tried her on the grass, but she hadn't gotten much out of her first race and she tired late. She really ran much better than it looks on paper. She was right there until she tired, and she had reason to tire."

Forster said A Classic Life arrived on the grounds after last Sunday's fireworks show and has settled in nicely.

"She seems to be doing great," said Forster. "She is the same horse she has always been. She is training as well or better than she did last year, and I still have very high hopes for her. As long as the ship didn't knock her out, I expect her to run very well on Sunday, and even better in the Oaks."

Belvoir has pair of top 2-year-olds

Trainer Howard Belvoir appears to have a stranglehold on the local 2-year-old colt and gelding division. He won both of the division's maiden special weight races at the meeting with Courting Seattle and Tusko T., and Courting Seattle came back to defeat winners with 5 1/2 furlongs in a sizzling 1:03.20 on Monday.

"Tusko T. may have more talent, but I like Courting Seattle right now because of his attitude," said Belvoir. "He has a good mind and he does everything like a professional. Tusko T. has a ton of ability, but he has a questionable mind. I'm glad he'll have a long time between races before the first stakes comes up."

Both colts are pointing toward the $40,000 Emerald Express at six furlongs on July 30.