05/16/2002 12:00AM

Stakes will have to wait for Winitall


AUBURN, Wash. - Winitall's last race was so impressive that his trainer, Dan Markle, nominated him to Sunday's Fox Sports Net Handicap. But instead of sending Winitall against such top horses as Crowning Meeting, Handy N Bold, and King Jeremy in the Fox Sports Net, Markle has opted for a less ambitious spot, a $40,000 optional claimer at a mile on Saturday.

Winitall is coming off a 5 1/2-length victory over $25,000 claimers on April 28, when he raced six furlongs in a sizzling 1:08.40. Off that performance, Winitall was assigned 114 pounds for the 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Net Handicap, five pounds less than the highweights.

Winitall, a 7-year-old son of Regal Classic who races for the partnership of Tim and Sue Spooner and Dennis Townsend, is proven at Saturday's distance, having defeated allowance runners at a mile at Golden Gate in January. Prior to that score, Winitall won a $100,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles in December at Golden Gate.

Winitall has 10 wins from 34 career outings and has earnings of nearly $170,000.

The likely favorite may get his sternest challenge from Game Ticket, who stretches out to a more favorable distance after running third to stakes winner Jade Green in a 6 1/2-furlong race for $40,000 optional claimers on May 5.

Last season, the 4-year-old Game Ticket posted a second and a fourth against $40,000 optional claimers at a mile, and he finished fourth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Jumron Won, in the one-mile Seattle Slew Handicap.

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