05/28/2004 11:00PM

Random Memo, mudlark


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Aubrey Villyard had never worked Random Memo on a wet track and he wasn't anxious to do so on Wednesday morning, but he had little choice. Random Memo needed a prep for Monday's 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola Handicap, and the forecast called for the rain to continue well into the weekend.

"I paced back and forth for a while, but I finally decided it had to be done," said Villyard. "The track wasn't going to get any better."

Villyard told rider Gallyn Mitchell not to force the issue if Random Memo wasn't handling the soupy surface, but the instructions weren't necessary. Random Memo glided a half-mile over the track in 48 seconds, then tacked on another furlong in 12 seconds before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.40.

"[Mitchell] came back and told me I'd better pray for more rain, because he just loved the slop," said Villyard. "I don't think I'll pray for rain, but it's nice to know he can handle a wet track if he has to."

Random Memo, a son of Memo who established himself as one of the top juveniles on the grounds last season, began his 3-year-old campaign with a game second to Crimson Design in the six-furlong Auburn Stakes on May 2.

"I thought he ran awfully well for his first start of the year, and I'm sure he'll improve off that race," said Villyard. "The thing is, though, he'll be running against a couple of undefeated horses in this race. Until they get beat, you really have no idea how good they might be."

Unbeaten, untested

The unbeaten horses are Crimson Design and Pool Boy, and Villyard isn't alone in wondering how good they might be. Trainer Jim Fergason says he doesn't believe he has seen the best of Crimson Design yet, and those who witnessed his Auburn victory are likely to agree.

Crimson Design, the best son yet of Cisco Road, had to be restrained from opening up a daylight advantage early, and he appeared to have something in reserve when he crossed the wire with 1 1/2 lengths to spare.

As for Pool Boy, he has yet to be tested after easy wins over maiden special weight and allowance company.

"We haven't pushed on him yet," said trainer Tim McCanna. "He has done it all on his own so far. I know he is a nice horse, but it's hard to say how nice until he gets tested."

The prospect of a wet track for the Pepsi-Cola isn't a concern for McCanna.

"He's by Slewdledo from of a Gumboy mare, and those are two of the best mud sires around," he said. "A wet track is the least of my worries."

Pace might make race

It won't escape the notice of handicappers that both of the undefeated horses have never been behind a rival. Random Memo has also run on the lead in most of his races, and Pepsi-Cola hopefuls Eecheero, Jablunkov Pass, and Spin the Wind are all coming off front-running wins. In other words, there is no shortage of speed in Monday's stakes.

That's good news for Skyrider, who probably packs the most potent stretch kick in the field. Skyrider, a son of Flying With Eagles and Sarna, came from far back to win over $32,000 maidens in his career debut here last season, then closed for third in the Captain Condo Stakes. Given the winter off, Skyrider returned with a closing fourth against allowance company in a six-furlong test at Hawthorne Park on May 8.

"He ran a little green in that race," said trainer Grant Forster. "He was climbing early, but he leveled out down the lane and finished strong against some pretty nice horses. It was a good effort for his first start of the year."

Forster said Skyrider arrived back at Emerald Downs about two weeks ago and has settled in nicely.

"He worked a strong six furlongs with Ben Russell up," said Forster. "We made him eat some dirt early and he took it pretty well, then he finished fast. We're hoping he'll run that kind of race on Monday. It looks like the race will set up for a closer, and he is bred to be a nice horse."

Skyrider is the first foal from Sarna, a winning full sister to $264,913 earner Son's Corona and a half-sister to stakes runners Basin City Ben and Cascade Corona.