07/17/2003 11:00PM

Secondary School to take on locals


AUBURN, Wash. - There will be a new player when the local fillies and mares belly up to the table for Sunday's $40,000 Boeing Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Secondary School, a winner of four of her six starts, all at Hastings Park, will make her Emerald Downs debut as the 119-pound highweight and may well be favored off her authoritative win in the 1 1/16-mile Sun Handicap on June 7. She came back to run fourth in the nine-furlong Brighouse Belles Handicap on June 29, however, and will be trying to rebound from that effort.

"She was a little rank early in the Brighouse Belles, and then she just ran in spots," said trainer Grant Forster. "She is still a little green, but that isn't unusual for a horse who has only started six times. We'd like to see her relax early and come running at the end."

Secondary School, a 4-year-old daughter of Honor Grades who races for breeder Janis Whitham, arrived at Emerald about two weeks ago.

"She seems to have settled in very nicely," Forster said. "She worked five furlongs in 58 flat last Sunday with Gary Baze up, and Gary will ride her. The key will be getting her to relax early, and Gary is pretty good at that."

Baze, who has won more races and more stakes in Washington than any other rider, will be seeking his sixth stakes score at the meet.

Blinkers back on Tamarack Bay

Forster's other entrant in the Boeing, Tamarack Bay, doesn't need any help relaxing early. When last seen in the one-mile King County Handicap on June 28, the 4-year-old daughter of Dehere fell 13 lengths off the pace before rallying furiously to get third, beaten two lengths by Strikes No Spares.

"We're going to put the blinkers back on her on Sunday, and we hope that will help her to stay a little closer," the trainer said. "She wore blinkers for most of her career, but they took them off in her last race in California and I just left them off for her two races here. The problem is that she has been dropping farther and farther back, and we're going to try to put a stop to that."

Strikes No Spares wide awake

Trainer Bob McMeans is expecting another big effort on Sunday from Strikes No Spares, whose victory in the King County was the climax of a sharply improving pattern. Strikes No Spares, a late-running daughter of Smart Strike, ran sixth in the 6 1/2-furlong Hastings Park Handicap on May 4, then finished second in a mile allowance before notching her initial stakes win.

"It just took her a long time to come around," McMeans said. "She wasn't finishing her works the way I wanted this spring, but I trained her for so long I finally had to run her. The races seemed to wake her up, and she started showing more in the mornings, then in the afternoons. She's doing better now than she has done since I got her, so I'm pretty happy with her."

McMeans said the added distance of the Boeing should be of benefit to Strikes No Spares.

"She really wants to go 1 1/8 miles or farther, but the extra sixteenth on Sunday has got to help her," he said. "The other thing that will help is a fast pace."

Distance test for Whiskey Til Dawn

With as many as five front-runners slated to contest the Boeing, the pace shouldn't be a problem for Strikes No Spares. It may be a problem for Whiskey Til Dawn, who will be making her stakes debut off a pair of sharp sprints. Whiskey Til Dawn, a 4-year-old daughter of Whiskey Wisdom and the Riva Ridge matron Karen R., came from slightly off the pace to beat $25,000 company by nearly five lengths before just failing to last against $50,000 optional-claiming company at six furlongs June 15.

"This will be her first route try and she might be a little fresh, but I'm hoping she will be able to take back and stalk the pace," said trainer Frank Lucarelli. "The main question is whether she can get the distance. I don't think she is really bred for it, but she acts like she wants to go farther, and she worked a strong seven furlongs in 1:27 on Tuesday. This race is kind of an experiment."

Contest not just for 'statebreds'

The Ultimate Qualifying Round for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Champion-ship, which will be held at Emerald on July 27, will have a distinctly national flavor. Of the 400 slots available through telephone registration, 88 were filled by callers who phoned from outside Washington.

Thirteen states and one Canadian province will be represented in the Ultimate Qualifying Round, which offers a $10,000 first prize. The top 12 finishers will qualify for an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas to compete for a $200,000 prize in the National Handicapping Champion-ship in January.