12/18/2002 12:00AM

Speedsters hook up going short

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Trophy for Me and Baldjim square off in Friday's 4 1/2-furlong eighth race at Portland Meadows. The race is for older horses eligible for $3,200 starter-allowance conditions and has lured a field of eight.

Trophy for Me, a 9-year-old with 16 wins, is coming off back-to-back scores at the $2,500 claiming level. He led throughout six furlongs in both of those scores. Trophy for Me, who races for trainer Larry Cermack, no doubt has designs on the lead again Friday, but Baldjim poses a formidable obstacle.

Baldjim, a short-sprint specialist, is winless in three starts at this meeting, but he showed the way through rapid fractions in all of those races and held on for second or third each time. Baldjim, a 6-year-old from the barn of trainer Steve Duschka, last raced Dec. 8, when he finished third, beaten a length, against $2,500 company at six furlongs. He won twice going five furlongs at Boise last summer and figures to be difficult to overhaul at Friday's distance.

But even 4 1/2 furlongs is a long way for horses to duel at top speed, and if Trophy for Me and Baldjim should engage in such a duel on Friday it could open the door for Unnamed Soldier.

The Don Munger-trained Unnamed Soldier has finished fast in all three of his races at this meet and is coming off a narrow miss going five furlongs against $3,200 company on Nov. 24. He finished second of 10 that day but was disqualified and placed fourth.

First post for Friday's nine-race card is 7 p.m.

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