01/09/2002 12:00AM

Ransome Road rewards two trainers in OTBA win

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PORTLAND, Ore. - When Thoroughbred stakes action resumed at Portland Meadows with Saturday's running of the $10,000 Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stallion Stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, Ransome Road was ready for it. According to trainer L.A. "Hammy" Williams, the same couldn't be said of the gelding's three prior starts.

"He came in late and he really wasn't ready for his first start, but he won that race off natural ability," said the trainer. "Then he probably wasn't ready to go six furlongs in the Bill Wineberg next time out, but since he got second that day I ran him back in the Oregon Futurity at a mile, and I know he wasn't ready for that. He was fit for the Stallion Stakes, though, and with the cutback to six furlongs I figured he'd be awfully tough."

Ransome Road, a son of Cisco Road from the stakes-winning mare La Kondila, was as good as his trainer might have wished. Under Shawna Barber, who was notching the second of three wins on the card, Ransome Road outsprinted the speedy Lammy for the early advantage and drew off to score by five lengths in a rapid 1:12.80.

"It was really fun to see him run the way we all thought he could," said Williams. "I raised this colt myself, and I gave him to my four grandchildren. It was a family deal, and that made it all the better."

Williams credited fellow trainer Jim Fergason with pushing him in the right direction to prepare Ransome Road for his first stakes win, and Fergason was glad to be of service. Fergason stands Cisco Road at his farm in Vancouver, Wash., and Ransome Road became the stallion's eighth stakes winner from four crops to race. Cisco Road, a fast son of Northern Baby, had sired 66 winners from 96 starters through mid-October for a solid 69 percent success rate.

"He has been a good sire for this area, and he is coming off a big year," noted Fergason. "His biggest crop are 2-year-olds of 2002, so he should do even better this year. He has 80 2-year-olds."

Fergason fielded two starters in the Stallion Stakes, getting third with longshot Maloya's Sun but finishing sixth and last with the talented but erratic Gold for Ghost, who was favored at 8-5.

"He made a big move, but then he started bearing out and fell apart," said the trainer. "It's frustrating. He teases you by showing he can run, but he is just so green that nothing comes of it. I think he'll eventually show what he can do, but sometimes it takes time."

Little Nat snappy at last

Owner and trainer Jerry Weaver knows all about the frustrations of dealing with difficult horses, but his patience paid off when Little Nat scored her second straight win in Sunday's six-furlong allowance feature for fillies and mares.

All last winter and spring, Weaver was sky-high on Little Nat, a grand-looking daughter of Maudlin who consistently showed brilliant speed in the mornings. It was a bitter disappointment, then, when the filly beat just five horses in her first four starts at Emerald Downs last summer.

"In retrospect, I think she was bleeding through her Lasix," said the trainer. "Also, she lost confidence in herself. I finally decided to turn her out and start all over with her at this meet."

Little Nat posted a confidence-building win over maiden special weight company in her return to action on Dec. 9, then came back on after being passed in the stretch to register a gutty nose win over the razor-sharp Barmara on Sunday, when she got six furlongs in 1:13.

"My plan now is to send her long, which is what I have wanted to do with her all along," said Weaver. "It's what she is bred to do, and what she has always acted like she wants to do. She may yet turn out to be the kind of horse I thought she was."

Contest pot guarantees 12G minimum

Portland Meadows will offer a bigger version of its regular handicapping contests on Feb. 9 and 10, when contestants will compete for a pot guaranteed to be at least $12,000. In addition, all entrants will be entered in a drawing for a trip to the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

A jacket will be awarded to the champion of this and future handicapping contests, and the four handicappers amassing the most points over the next four contests will represent Portland Meadows in the January 2003 Daily Racing Form/ NTRA National Handicapping Championship.