09/18/2006 11:00PM

Raise the Bluff works for rare derby double


AUBURN, Wash. - The Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby hero, Raise the Bluff, worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Sunday in preparation for his next engagement, which will come in Sunday's Grade 3, $300,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings.

"He worked well, and he seems to have come out of it in good shape, so we're all set," said trainer Junior Coffey. "If he handles the tight turns up there, he should do fine."

Coffey will be attempting to pull off a rare double with Raise the Bluff, a son of Pine Bluff who races for Ron Crockett Inc. Though both Makors Mark and Flamethrowintexan shipped up to win the British Columbia Derby in recent years, neither of those runners won the local derby. The last horse to win both derbies was the Jim Penney-trained Irish Bear, who won the Longacres Derby and the British Columbia Derby in 1987.

Coffey doesn't cross the border to race unless he feels he has a good chance to win, though, and, in fact, he hasn't run at Hastings since it was called Exhibition Park.

"I took Cruisin' Two Su up there to run in the Ballerina Stakes in 1987," he recalled. "She went off at 13-1, but she won. I think the key was that she handled the bullring great. She had a short stride, so her legs were always underneath her. Raise the Bluff has a longer stride, but he is not really a big horse, and I'm hoping he'll handle the turns. It should be a good challenge for him."

Some titles nailed down

The Washington Cup program was conceived to showcase statebreds, and it has certainly served its purpose. Sunday's Washington Cup IV included a number of brilliant performances, at least three or four of which seemed to sew up divisional honors.

That was certainly the case for Starbird Road's track-record performance in the Chinook Pass Sprint, which he won by 3 1/4 lengths over world-record holder Sabertooth in 1:07.40 for six furlongs. It was Starbird Road's fourth win from five starts at the meeting, all but one in stakes, and it rendered academic any discussion of who might be the best sprinter on the grounds.

Queenledo also secured older filly or mare honors with her win in the Belle Roberts, which followed a boffo 8 1/4-length score in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff on Longacres Mile Day. Off that huge win, Queenledo was bet down to 3-10 in the Belle Roberts, but she managed to inject some drama into the race when she stumbled badly at the start, nearly unseating rider Sandi Gann. Once horse and rider recovered, it was no contest. Queenledo won off by two lengths in 1:41.80, the second fastest 1 1/16-mile clocking ever recorded by a filly or mare at Emerald Downs. Only Youcan'ttakeme ran the distance faster when she won the 2003 Kent Handicap in 1:41.20.

She's All Silk probably wrapped up 3-year-old filly honors when she posted an easy 6 1/2-length win over stablemate Wave Her On in the John and Kitty Fletcher Stakes at a mile. She's All Silk became the division's only double stakes winner at the meeting, with her other stakes score coming in the division's premier event, the $100,000 Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Still to be determined is whether Immigration's 5 3/4-length score in the six-furlong Captain Condo Stakes was enough to secure recognition as the meeting's top 2-year-old colt or gelding. It was Immigration's fourth win from five starts at the meeting, and it was his third stakes win.

"Nobody else has won more than one stakes," noted trainer Howard Belvoir. "I think he should win it, myself, but I'm a little biased."

Immigration's only real competition is Wild Cycle, who defeated Immigration in the WTBA Lads Stakes at a mile. If Wild Cycle should happen to win the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity on Sept. 30 as well, a case could be made that he is the most accomplished 2-year-old on the grounds. Schoolin You parlayed wins in the same two races last year into a divisional title.

In any event, Immigration will not contest the Gottstein.

"We're going to turn him out now," said Belvoir. "He has done enough for one year. If I turn him out and let him grow, I think he'll come back as a grand-looking 3-year-old."

Also set to be turned out are Skewing, the winner of the Diane Kem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and Norm's Nephew, who won the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for older horses. Midwesterner, the winner of the Trooper Seven Stakes for 3-year-olds, is scheduled to return to the barn of northern California trainer Ed Moger Jr.

Favorites rule the day

The first nine races on Sunday's 10-race card, including all seven of the Washington Cup stakes, were won by favorites. It was believed to be the most formful day of racing ever conducted at Emerald Downs.

Kevin Krigger won five races last week to take a 73-70 lead in the rider standings over Kevin Radke, who has not ridden since Sept. 7. Radke, who missed two seasons with a wrist injury, has been troubled by pain in the same wrist and may not ride again at the meeting.