05/17/2004 11:00PM

Sariano back on upswing

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AUBURN, Wash. - Frustration and disappointment are standard fare for trainers of Thoroughbreds, and Sariano gave Steve Bullock a double helping of each last year as a 2-year-old.

After winning her debut in spectacular fashion, thus raising Bullock's hopes, Sariano failed to win again in three subsequent starts.

"She wouldn't want to go in the gate, then when they packed her in she got mad and wouldn't run," Bullock said. "Before the first stakes last year she worked six furlongs in 1:11.20, and I didn't think there was any way they could beat her. Then they ran the race in 1:11.20 and she got beat about 15 lengths. I couldn't believe it."

Months of patient work in the paddock and at the gate ensued, and the payoff came in less than 30 seconds Sunday afternoon. That was how long it took for Sariano to sweep from last to first in the final five-sixteenths of a mile in the 6 1/2-furlong Federal Way Handicap, which she won by a half-length over the pacesetting Sandia's Flicka in 1:15.80.

"The pace was backing up for the last four or five races, so I just sat back there patiently," said rider Ricky Frazier. "The leader was so far ahead of me, and there were so many horses between us, that I couldn't even see her. I just knew my horse would be running at the end, and was she ever. She just ate 'em up."

Frazier, who became the first rider to win two stakes at the meeting, inherited the mount aboard Sariano when regular rider Juan Gutierrez injured a shoulder in a spill Friday night and had to take the rest of the weekend off. He now has a reserved seat on Sariano.

"I think I've got to stick with Ricky now," said Bullock. "I know it's going to break Juan's heart, but it's hard to take a guy off after he wins a stakes for you. This is a tough game."

It's a game that Sariano seems to have finally mastered. She will attempt to confirm that conclusion when the 3-year-old stakes fillies get together next in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 13.

"I really think she is going to relish going two turns," said Bullock. "She ran third in the [one-mile] Barbara Shinpoch last year, and she had a sore tailbone for that race and was only about 60 percent. Now that she is healthy and her mind is right, I just think she'll be double tough."

Successful meet for Terry

Trainer Rick Terry was no doubt disappointed that Sandia's Flicka couldn't quite hold on for a second straight stakes win in the Federal Way, but that was one of very few disappointments Terry has experienced at this meeting. After Sunday's 16th day of racing, Terry had saddled eight winners from 20 starters (40 percent) to tie Frank Lucarelli for leading trainer.

Boosting Terry's numbers the most has been Thunzarr, whom Terry has converted from a closing router to a front-running sprinter since taking over his training last winter. Thunzarr became the first horse to register three wins at the meeting when he led throughout 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.80 to defeat $10,000 claimers Saturday.

"He is one of 10 horses I raced during the off season at Sunland Park, and it helps to have some who have been racing," said Terry. "We have 22 horses total, and my wife, Pam, trained the other 12 here all spring. She had them ready to roll, and it was really nice to have everybody as tight as a drum when I got here."

Terry said his wife, an exercise rider, didn't accompany him to New Mexico because she was undergoing apparently successful treatment for colon cancer. Nevertheless, she did not miss a day of galloping horses after the track opened for training Feb. 1.

"She's got a lot of spirit, and she loves the horses," said Terry.

D'Amico rides seven winners

It was the Duane D'Amico show when Grants Pass opened its annual summer meeting last Saturday, as D'Amico rode seven winners on the 10-race card.

After an absence of several years, D'Amico returned to riding well after the start of last winter's Portland Meadows meeting, but he finished that stand with a rush to end up fourth in the jockey standings with 51 wins. That set the stage for his sensational beginning at Grants Pass.

D'Amico won Saturday's early daily double aboard Corarrow ($14) and Sideburn ($5.40). After finishing out of the money in the third race, he ran off wins aboard Taxing Devil ($10.40), Little Miss Georgia ($7.40), Miss Congeniality ($3.60), City Parkway ($4.40), and Fly Mark Garrison ($3.40) before finishing fourth and third in the last two races.

The wins aboard Little Miss Georgia and Fly Mark Garrison came in Quarter Horse races.