12/15/2005 1:00AM

Riley Beaver goes for elusive bonus


PORTLAND, Ore. - With a purse of $40,000 and a winner's share of $22,000, Saturday's Os West Oregon Futurity is the richest prize offered at the Portland Meadows meeting.

Should Riley Beaver win the race, it will be a good deal richer. That is because Riley Beaver, a 2-year-old son of Baquero who races for Jack and Cookie Root, is eligible for a $30,000 bonus by virtue of having won the six-furlong OTBA Sales Stakes on Nov. 5. That bonus, which is funded by an annual auction of stallion shares on Oregon Championship Day, has been available for the last several years. It has never been claimed, however, because no horse has been able to win both the Sales Stakes and the Futurity. Can Riley Beaver be the first?

"I sure hope so," said Ben Root, who trains Riley Beaver for his parents. "I think he wants the distance, and I've done everything I can to get him ready. Now it's just a question of whether he is good enough and how the race sets up. He has no early speed, so he needs a fast pace in front of him. I'm hoping somebody can go out there and hook Tom Two so he'll come back to us in the lane."

Root is in a position to do more than hope that Tom Two, who figures to be favored in the Futurity, receives some early pressure. The trainer will saddle a total of five horses for the race. Besides Riley Beaver, he will send out Cascadians Cuttie, who ran second to Tom Two in both the Bill Wineberg and the Columbia River; Newberg Gold, who closed for third in the Wineberg; and the maidens Ann's Last Chance and King James Delivers.

"Both Cascadians Cuttie and Ann's Last Chance have good speed, and I think they can lay close without being hustled," said Root. "It would be nice if somebody else would go up and put pressure on Tom Two, but if it is going to be left up to me, I think I have the horses to do it."

Root believes Cascadians Cuttie is the most talented of his juveniles and probably has the best chance to upset Tom Two, but he thinks Riley Beaver has a legitimate shot.

"He probably should go off at around 5-1, at least in my opinion, and that means he is a contender," said the trainer. "He needs help, like I said, but he has trained into this race really well and he is bred to go long. It could happen."

Fully loaded for big day

Root figures to be busy all day on Saturday. In addition to his five Futurity starters, the trainer will saddle Delecana, Tracy's Nitemare, and Fettles Klan for the Jane Driggers Debutante for 2-year-old fillies, A Colt Named Sue for the Oregon His for 3-year-olds, My Emy My Amy for the Oregon Hers for 3-year-old fillies, and Stately Jack Flash for the Oregon Sprint Championship.

"I would think A Colt Named Sue gives me my best chance to win one of the Oregon-bred stakes, but My Emy My Amy should be very tough as well," said Root. "They are both coming off strong prep races, and they are both proven around two turns."

The trainer conceded that he would have to get lucky to win with any of his other entrants, but he noted that he won last year's Oregon His with Might E. Man, who was coming off a seven-month layoff.

"I thought I had good shots with some of my other horses, but Might E. Man was my only winner, and he was a big surprise," said Root. "You never know what will happen, and that's what makes it fun. Days like this are why I'm here, and I'm looking forward to it."

Family tradition on the line

Tom Two will be trying to follow in the footsteps of two of his older siblings when he goes in the Os West Oregon Futurity. His older sister Cyamaria won the rich race in 1999, and his older brother Tom Won was victorious in 2003.

Tom Two, who is by Free at Last and out of the outstanding broodmare Sushi Q., is also a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Yesss. He will outstrip the juvenile accomplishments of all of his siblings if he wins on Saturday. A victory in the Futurity would give Tom Two five wins from 11 starts at 2, pushing his earnings to almost $87,000.

"He isn't as big as his brothers and sisters, so I really didn't know quite what to expect of him," said Delmer Webb, who has trained all of Sushi Q.'s offspring. "He is quicker than his brothers and sisters, though, and so far he has been more durable. You would think he would be getting a little tired by now, but he has gotten stronger with racing. I hope he has one more good race left in him, and I think he has. Then it will be time for a break."

Emerald to race 91 days in 2006

The Washington Horse Racing Commission approved a 91-day 2006 season for Emerald Downs at its meeting on Wednesday. Emerald will race from April 21 through Oct. 1.

The track will operate on a Friday-through-Sunday basis through May, then add Thursday racing through the remainder of the meeting.