05/29/2003 11:00PM

Stakes conditions keep 'em away


AUBURN, Wash. - It's not so much that Youcan'ttakeme scared away the competition for Sunday's Son of Briartic Stakes. It's more that there wasn't much eligible competition to scare away.

The $35,000 Son of Briartic, which is a new stakes race for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, and its counterpart for colts and geldings, the June 22 Table Run Stakes, carry double restrictions. To be eligible, the competitors must have been nominated to the Northwest Race Series as yearlings, or they must be supplemented at a cost of $2,000. In addition, their sires must have been among the 47 who were nominated to the Northwest Stallion Stakes Series during the year they were conceived.

The race is named for Washington's most successful sire in terms of lifetime progeny earnings.

Say there are a dozen capable 3-year-old fillies on the grounds who want to go a mile and are of stakes quality, which may be a generous estimate. Several of those fillies weren't nominated to the Northwest Race Series, and several more are by sires who weren't nominated to the Northwest Stallion Stakes Series. The remainder is what you will get in Sunday's race - a lopsided field of four that includes two winners of open stakes races, a maiden winner, and a non-winner of three races.

In fact, the two new stakes races carry the same restrictions as the divisions of the Northwest Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds, which have filled like clockwork since they were inaugurated decades ago at Longacres. The difference is that most horsemen harbor dreams that their 2-year-olds are of stakes quality. By the time the same horses are 3, the majority of those dreams have been exposed as illusions.

Youcan'ttakeme a question at route

Even if there had been more eligible competitors for the Son of Briartic, perhaps Youcan'ttakeme would have scared them away.

Those who saw Youcan'ttakeme's dominating six-length victory in last month's Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs might think so. But Youcan'ttakeme, a daughter of the young Seattle Slew stallion He's Tops out of Takeaway, by Fly So Free, has something to prove at route distances.

In three prior tries around two turns, Youcan'ttakeme has not finished in the money. She ran fourth against males in last season's 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity at this track, then finished a distant eighth in the one-mile Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. She also finished sixth in the Instant Racing Breeders' Cup Stakes at one mile at Oaklawn Park in April.

"We took her blinkers off for the race at Churchill and she broke slowly and tried to get out the whole way," said trainer Grant Forster. "She even bled a little, so it was just a bad day at the office. Then in the race at Oaklawn she collapsed with heat exhaustion after the race, so that one was a throwout.

"As far as I'm concerned, she proved she could go long in the Futurity last year. It was just her second start and she was only beaten four lengths by the boys. It is an open question whether she can go nine furlongs against top competition, but I'm confident she'll get a mile on Sunday."

Driever confident in Top Penny

Top Penny, who finished third behind Bisbee's Prospect in the six-furlong U.S. Bank Stakes on opening day and second to Youcan'ttakeme in the Federal Way, is hoping to move up another notch in the Son of Briartic. But, she also has something to prove at a mile. Top Penny, also a daughter of He's Tops from Foxy Penny, by Tally Ho the Fox, won a pair of sprint stakes last winter at Turf Paradise, but finished a distant fourth in her only try at one mile in Phoenix.

"She got hung out real wide in that race, so I don't really think it was a fair test," said trainer Doug Driever. "I have always felt she would love a mile, and I hope she will prove me right on Sunday. She worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 last week and she was going strong at the end, so I'll be surprised if the distance is a problem for her."

Flying Notes breezes five furlongs

Last season's horse of the meeting, Flying Notes, breezed five furlongs in 58.80 seconds Friday morning under regular rider Kevin Radke. Last year, Flying Notes ran the fastest nine furlongs in the nation when he won the Emerald Derby in 1:45.40. He hasn't raced since September.

It was the fifth official workout for Flying Notes this spring, but trainer Bud Klokstad said he is unlikely to be ready in time for the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at one mile June 15.

"To tell you the truth, I haven't even opened the condition book to look for a race for him yet," said the trainer. "I'll worry about that when I have him ready to run."

Klokstad had bad news concerning two of his 3-year-old stars. He said Bub, who was named last season's top 2-year-old at Emerald, has been sidelined with pneumonia and may not race again at the meet. And My Plan, who finished last in Monday's Pepsi-Cola Handicap, exited the race with soreness in his hindquarters.