07/10/2006 11:00PM

Setting's ideal for A Classic Life


AUBURN, Wash. - A Classic Life became the first horse at the meeting to win two stakes when she scored in Sunday's $40,000 King County Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile. Her previous stakes win at the stand, the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Handicap, made her the first horse in Emerald Downs history to win added-money events at the ages of 2, 3, and 4.

Surely her most impressive accomplishment, however, is that she has now won 7 of her 8 starts at Emerald.

"What makes her record here all the more remarkable is that she has been meeting some really tough horses," said trainer Grant Forster. "Especially this year, with Queenledo and Karis Makaw in her division, it is just a very tough group."

Though her rivals were indeed accomplished, A Classic Life made beating them look easy on Sunday. She broke best of all under rider Ricky Frazier, stalked the pace of Dinner at Arlene's through a half-mile in 46.80 seconds, moved to take command on the second turn, and held Queenledo safe through the stretch to score by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:35.60.

"She actually made the lead before I wanted, but she was dragging me up there," said Frazier. "She was just full of run."

Dinner at Arlene's held third in her initial stakes try, while Karis Makaw checked in fifth of seven after racing trapped on the rail for much of the way. Jockey Kevin Radke felt the footing was deeper on the rail, which took the punch out of Karis Makaw's late move.

"Breaking from the one hole just killed us," he said. "We were one-holed."

Forster admitted that A Classic Life's King County victory was easier than he had foreseen, but he expects her next two outings to be much tougher. A Classic Life will come back in the 1 1/16-mile Boeing Handicap on July 29, then conclude her Emerald Downs campaign in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff at a mile on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 20.

"I'm sure we'll pick up weight for the next one, plus all the local horses will be tougher with a route race under their belts," said Forster. "I've also heard that Monashee will be shipping down from Canada, so it's not going to get any easier."

Monashee, a 4-year-old daughter of Wolf Power who is trained by Tracy McCarthy, defeated A Classic Life in last year's British Columbia Oaks at Hastings Park. She is coming off back-to-back stakes wins at Hastings, including a 13 3/4-length score at 15 cents on the dollar in the recent Senate Appointee Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Nonetheless, Forster didn't seem to fear an invasion by Monashee.

"Bring her on," said the trainer. "She beat us at Hastings, but this is our track. A Classic Life is a different horse over this surface."

Starbird Road cut but okay

Trainer Sharon Ross said Starbird Road sustained a minor injury in his impressive win over allowance company on Saturday, but that it shouldn't prevent him from contesting the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap on Mile Preview Day, July 30.

"He came out of the race with a deep gash on the back of his right knee, and it took three staples to close it up," said Ross. "It scared the heck out of me, because I was afraid he had tendon damage. It looked worse than it was, though. He'll be fine."

Ross said she has not made plans for Starbird Road, who won the six-furlong Seattle Handicap earlier in the meeting, beyond the Governor's. She said that she and owner Rick Beal will meet after the race to decide whether to point him toward the Longacres Mile.

"Everyone seems to want us to go in the Mile, but we're not so sure he wants to go that far," Ross said. "He is such a nice sprinter and his confidence is so high right now, we just hate to ask him to do something he can't do. We'll think about it, though. It's not out of the question."

Slewicide Cruise to resume training

Trainer Robbie Baze said Slewicide Cruise will resume training this week after recovering from injuries sustained in the FSN Handicap on May 29. He said Slewicide Cruise cut his lip, grabbed a quarter, and injured his eye when he charged the gate before the start.

"The eye injury was the most worrisome," said the trainer. "He had a catheter in his eye until recently, and he still only has about 50 percent vision in that eye. His vision is supposed to gradually improve, though, and the vets say there is no harm in putting him back into training."

Slewicide Cruise, now 6, was named sprinter of the meeting at Emerald in 2004. He won last year's Seattle Handicap, but he injured a suspensory ligament shortly thereafter and missed the remainder of his 5-year-old season. The FSN was his third start back on the comeback trail, and it is now clear that he had an excuse for finishing last.

In his previous outing, Slewicide Cruise ran a good third behind Starbird Road in this year's Seattle Handicap.