04/08/2005 12:00AM

'Run Irene' is always right there

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PORTLAND, Ore. - An evenly matched field of eight older fillies and mares, each eligible to be claimed for $6,250 to $5,000, will compete at a mile in Sunday's best race at Portland Meadows.

Run Irene Run might be the favorite off her impressive win March 26, when she defeated $4,000 rivals at a mile. A front-running daughter of He's Tops trained by Delmer Webb, Run Irene Run has won or placed in all six of her mile tries, including two wins, a second, and three thirds at the distance.

Run Irene Run might get her sternest challenge from Valentine Surprise, who just missed when racing under Sunday's conditions in her last outing. A Crowning Season filly trained by Robert Terry, Valentine Surprise lost by a head March 19 to Foxy Jenny, who was clocked in 1:41.60. Though Valentine Surprise is winless in four tries at a mile, she has twice run second against good company.

Also a threat is Bills Proud Mary, who will be making her route debut after running first and second against $8,000 rivals in her last two sprints. Bills Proud Mary has excellent early foot and may challenge Run Irene Run for the early advantage. Mark Jones trains, and leading rider Javier Ortega will ride.

Another to be respected is Dovedale, who beat restricted $8,000 claimers at six furlongs in her last appearance, Feb. 21. Dovedale outfinished $4,000 rivals at a mile one start before and will be shooting for her third straight score.