05/30/2006 11:00PM

Spanish Highway eyes Emerald Cap


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Bill Tollett said Spanish Highway, the winner of Monday's 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap, exited his race in good order and will likely run back in the $75,000 Emerald Downs Handicap at a mile on June 18.

"He runs a mile better than any other distance," said Tollett. "I never thought he could sprint at all until six or eight months ago, but I guess he has proven me wrong about that."

Spanish Highway, a 5-year-old, showed local fans he can sprint when he ran a fast-finishing second to Starbird Road in the April 30 Seattle Handicap at six furlongs. He moved his game up a notch in the FSN, collaring a stubborn Flamethrowintexan inside the furlong marker to prevail by a neck in 1:14.40.

"That was the hardest he has ever run for me," said regular rider Ken Tohill, who flew in from New Mexico to ride. "That runner-up is a very impressive horse. We got by him, then he came back at us. My horse really had to dig in to stay in front."

Flamethrowintexan's effort was all the more impressive because he showed the way through a sizzling half-mile in 43.40 seconds before being confronted by Spanish Highway, and he was making his first start since last September. Rider Ricky Frazier said he felt that his mount issued a clear warning to the local handicap division.

"I don't think he'll get beat the rest of the summer," said Frazier.

It is uncertain whether Spanish Highway and Flamethrowintexan will hook up again in the Emerald Downs Handicap. Kay Cooper, assistant to trainer Jim Penney, said several races are being considered for Flamethrowintexan. Her husband, Bryson, said one possibility is the Grade 3, $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap at 7 1/2 furlongs over the Hollywood Park dirt course on June 10.

Flamethrowintexan and Spanish Highway have the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 20 as their main goal for the summer, however, so they are likely to meet again.

Tollett seeks third straight stakes

Spanish Highway's victory in the FSN was the seventh from only 25 starters at the meeting for Tollett, and it followed hard on the heels of the Tollett-trained Diamond Dollars's win in the Federal Way Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on May 21. Tollett will try for three stakes wins in a row when he sends out Keagan as the 121-pound highweight in Sunday's $55,000 Pespi-Cola Handicap at 6 1/2 furlong.

"Could a guy get that lucky?" said Tollett. "I never would have dreamed I'd be in this position, but I do think Keagan has a good shot. He is a nice horse, and he has been training really well."

Tollett claimed Keagan out of his last start at Hollywood Park on May 17 for $80,000. Tollett's wife, Donna, is the new owner.

Keagan won three stakes last winter in Phoenix, including the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby at 1 1/16 miles, before running fifth to Wanna Runner in the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park on April 1.

"I was very impressed with the way he ran in the Southwest, and I thought he would fit well up here," said Tollett. "Now we'll find out if I was right."

Halonator's streak up to nine

Halonator extended her winning streak to nine in Monday's second race, but it wasn't easy. Making her first start of the year in a $5,000 starter allowance race at six furlongs, Halonator led through a half-mile in 44.60 seconds, but she was headed by Amanda Lynn with a furlong to run. She had to rally under vigorous urging from Kevin Radke to score by a neck in 1:09.80.

"That was the hardest she has ever been asked, and I really think she would have gotten beat if it hadn't been for Kevin," said trainer Dan Markle. "He got everything out of her, that's for sure."

Halonator, a 5-year-old daughter of Delineator, began her win streak last April with a narrow victory over $4,000 rivals. She eventually won the $50,000 Belle Roberts Handicap for Washington-breds at 1 1/16 miles in October, but remained eligible for modest starter allowance conditions. Markle said he hopes to take advantage of those conditions.

"I don't really want to throw her to the wolves in open stakes company, and I wouldn't know what kind of claiming tag to run her for," said Markle. "I'm hoping they will fill a couple more starter allowance races for her."

Mitchell represents contest winner

Tiffany Moenoa of Federal Way, Wash., won Monday's Win-A-Jockey Sweepstakes and selected jockey Gallyn Mitchell to represent her at the meeting. Moenoa will receive 1 percent of Mitchell's purse earnings at the stand, retroactive to the beginning of the meeting.

Mitchell, the track's all-time

winningest jockey, has about $180,000 in purse earnings through the first 18 days of the 90-day meet.

Last year's Win-A-Jockey Sweepstakes winner, Robert Stryker, collected more than $13,000 after selecting Ricky Frazier to represent him.