12/14/2009 12:00AM

Root loaded in juvenile stakes at Portland


By the time racing ends Monday at Portland Meadows, the two premier 2-year-old stakes for Oregon-breds may be referred to as the Ben Root Invitationals instead of the Janet Wineberg and Bill Wineberg.

Root trains four of the eight 2-year-old fillies entered in the $20,000 Janet Wineberg at six furlongs.

He sends out two runners, including undefeated 2-1 morning-line favorite Smoken Sham, in the $20,000 Bill Wineberg. Seven are entered in the six-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds.

Root has always been high on Smoken Sham, who overcame trouble to win his debut and then rallied nicely to win the Nov. 18 Dennis Dodge Memorial going away.

"He's getting better," Root says of Patrick Cosgrove's homebred gelded son of Seattle Shamus. "You can use all the cliches about improving 2-year-olds."

Root said Smoken Sham has always been ahead of his 2-year-old stablemates.

"Mentally, he figured it out right away," Root said. "He's push-button. He goes when you tell him."

Smart as Jim, runner-up when he and Smoken Sham debuted Oct. 5, and Smoken Sham's stablemate Promiscuous Lad, third in that same race, also are entered. Both came back to graduate by identical 2 1/2-length margins in their next starts.

Root has the 5-2 favorite in the Janet Wineberg in Shame on Rosie, runner-up in the Lassie in her last start after winning her maiden in her previous start. He also sends out Amanda's Turn, who was fifth in the Lassie; Stylish Miss, fourth in her debut; and first-timer Keana Rose.

Shame on Rosie was eliminated early when she broke poorly from the rail against colts at Emerald Downs in her debut. She has a win and 2 seconds in 3 starts here.

"She's not as push-button as Smoken Sham, but she's improved in every race," Root said.

She beat her primary rivals, the maiden Fast as Jeri and Rockhill Gold, in winning her debut. Fast as Jeri ran second, and Rockhill Gold was fifth. Rockhill Gold then defeated Fast as Jeri in their next start.

Trainer Jim Fergason thinks Fast as Jeri, who like Smoken Sham was sired by Seattle Shamus, has a shot, despite her maiden status.

"We didn't have a chance to break her maiden, but she does have good speed and should be dangerous," he said of his filly who will break from the rail.