02/17/2012 12:23PM

Route Claiming Series carries on with its second leg


On Portland Meadows's biggest day of racing, a 10-race card that includes the $20,000 Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders Derby and other stakes, the track's popular Route Claiming Series carries on with its second leg.

The Route Claiming Series, with its 18 remaining competitors, will run in a split of two 1 1/8-mile races with all entrants carrying a $4,000 claiming tag. In order to qualify for the March 15 final, all must run Monday. The top point earners from the Feb. 1 and Feb. 20 races will qualify for the lucrative $25,000 final.

Monday's first series race, the seventh on the card with a 2:45 p.m. Pacific scheduled post, came up tough as Carlsbad Lagoon and Doctor Pav, both winners of Feb. 1 series races, do battle with the likes of 18-time course winner Castle Pines and the solid closer Watch Your Money. However, Carlsbad Lagoon's five-length romp on Feb. 1 over the free-running Castle Pines was convincing, and he has the look of an astute claim by owner Jeff Wilson and trainer G. Dharma Khalsa. Doctor Pav, cleverly ridden by Joe Crispin last out, got the five points for the Feb. 1 win and should factor again as he puts his stamina to use. Watch Your Money, a wide-trip second to Doctor Pav last time to earn four points, drew an outside post again but should give an honest effort for new trainer Nick Lowe.

Meshaguna, the disappointing 9-10 favorite who finished seventh in Doctor Pav's race, was claimed by high-percentage trainer John Harris and could rebound. Capella Etoile, who earned three points for an even third in Carlsbad Lagoon's race, may benefit as the series' race distances increase. Swiss Exploit, the speedy Jonathan Nance trainee who cruised to a 2 3/4-length win in his Feb. 1 series race, headlines the other series division, the ninth on the card, with a 3:46 p.m. PT post. Nance, who had a great day Feb. 1, was left with just reformed sprinter Swiss Exploit for this stage and it will be interesting to see if he is active at the claim box. Taking Liberties, again piloted by the meet's leading rider, Javier Matias, chased home Swiss Exploit last time and could turn the tables on that one. Turntable Bay, sent off the 9-5 favorite when sixth in Carlsbad Lagoon's Feb. 1 win, was claimed and must reverse his form for new trainer Chris Sutton.

Activity at the claim box should be heavy as $4,000 claimers running for Monday's $5,000 purses don't get to fire back in a restricted $25,000 event often. Effectively, Portland Meadows has drawn substantial interest from connections wanting an enticing claiming series with the strategy of a poker game.