11/17/2005 12:00AM

Root takes seven shots at two stakes


Whenever there is an Oregon-bred stakes on the card at Portland Meadows, trainer Ben Root is in for a busy day.

Root always has a lot of young Oregon-breds in his barn, in large part because his parents, Jack and Cookie Root, are the state's largest breeders. The trainer's racing program is consequently geared toward the several Oregon-bred stakes on the Portland Meadows schedule, two of which will be run on Saturday.

With four candidates for the $20,000 Bill Wineberg for statebred 2-year-olds and three for the $20,000 Janet Wineberg for Oregon-bred 2-year-old fillies, Root figures to have his hands full just to get his runners saddled.

"It might be a little hectic, but it will be fun," Root said. "We've been pointing to these races, so I would have been disappointed if I didn't have any contenders."

No cause for disappointment, then, because all of Root's entrants appear to have legitimate shots. One, Tracy's Nitemare, figures to be a solid favorite in the Janet Wineberg, and another, Cascadians Cuttie, seems likely to vie with Tom Two for favoritism in the Bill Wineberg.

Tracy's Nitemare, a speedy daughter of Bagshot who races for the trainer's brother Gordon Root, is one of only three winners in the Janet Wineberg. She defeated maiden special weight rivals on Oct. 29, then proved her quality by running a strong third against males in the six- furlong OTBA Sales Stakes on Nov. 5.

"She looks awfully good with this group, but that had to be the case in order for her to run," said Ben Root. "She only became eligible for the Janet Wineberg when we supplemented her for $4,000, and we wouldn't have supplemented her if we didn't think she would win."

Root will saddle Lovers Cascadian, Newberg Gold, and Anns Last Chance as well as Cascadians Cuttie in the Bill Wineberg, but Cascadians Cuttie represents his best hope. Cascadians Cuttie, a son of Cascadian who races for Larry Faist, ran a strong third to $30,000 maidens in his Sept. 12 debut at Emerald Downs, then came back two weeks later to defeat the same kind by almost 10 lengths in a very fast 57.40 seconds for five furlongs.

"He has been off a while, but he has been training really well and I expect him to run big," said Root. "We will probably have to send him to keep Tom Two honest, but I think he is fit enough and good enough to do that."

Root said Cascadians Cuttie had to grow into his role as the barn's best 2-year-old.

"He was an ugly little rat in the spring, and I liked Lovers Cascadian better," he said. "I turned him out for May and June and he came back bigger, but he was gangly. He has really filled out in the last couple of months, and I think he is just now starting to show what he is capable of doing. I have very high hopes for him."

Tom Two small but quick

Despite Cascadians Cuttie's promise, there is little question that Tom Two enters the Wineberg as the most accomplished member of the field. Tom Two, who races for trainer Delmer Webb, won the Strong Ruler and ran second in the Captain Condo at Emerald last summer, and enters the race with more than $47,000 in earnings. With another victory on Saturday and a win in the $40,000 Os West Oregon Futurity on Dec. 17, he can top $80,000 in earnings as a 2-year-old.

"He has stayed healthy all year, and that is half the battle," said Webb. "He is doing especially well right now, and I think he will run very well."

Tom Two has a license to excel, as he is a half-brother to Oregon Futurity winners Cyamaria and Tom Won and to multiple stakes winner Yesss. Nevertheless, Webb said Tom Two has been something of a surprise.

"He's not big like the others, so I didn't know quite what to expect from him," said Webb. "He makes up for his lack of size with quickness, though, and he doesn't make many mistakes. One way or another, he gets the job done."

Clean break all filly needed

CPR First Feature's upset victory over heavily favored Los Alamitos invader Victorys Hope in last Sunday's Oregon-Bred Juvenile for 2-year-old Quarter Horses didn't take trainer Scott Raley by complete surprise. On the other hand, he wasn't counting on it.

"She has plenty of ability when she breaks cleanly, but she doesn't always do that," Raley said. "She has a habit of sort of leaping and breaking out to the side. She did that in her last two races, and both times the rider lost his irons. Two weeks ago I had Jaime Martinez break her from the gate to show him what she was like, and sure enough he lost his irons, too. I really didn't know what to expect from her on Sunday."

CPR First Feature, a daughter of First Down Cash who races for breeder and owner Edward Steenkolk, broke on top under Martinez on Sunday and led throughout the 400 yards in 20.68 to prevail by a half-length.

Raley said the filly will go next in the $6,000-added Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds at 350 yards on Jan. 29.