04/30/2002 12:00AM

Stamper has strong connections

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AUBURN, Wash. - Leading trainer Tim McCanna and top jockey Kevin Radke will attempt to pad their margins when they team up with Stamper in Thursday's best race at Emerald Downs, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds eligible to be claimed for $25,000.

McCanna, who is shooting for his fourth training title at Emerald, and Radke, who is launching his first full season of riding here, are both off to sizzling starts. McCanna has scored with nine of his first 24 starters for a strike rate of 37 percent. Radke has won aboard 12 of his first 47 mounts for a 26 percent success rate.

The pair have shared several of their wins, as Radke has been riding regularly for McCanna, whose brother, Boone, serves as the rider's agent.

McCanna and Radke again appear to hold a strong hand in Thursday's feature, as Stamper is the only two-time winner in the field of six and he comes off a pair of useful prep races in northern California. Stamper finished third and fourth to $25,000 claimers at Golden Gate and Bay Meadows, finishing within five lengths of the winner in both races. He figures to be primed for a top try in his third outing as a 3-year-old.

Top Pop is also fit from a California campaign, having scored his maiden win over $20,000 company last time out at Bay Meadows on April 6, while both Take My Heart and West Seattle Boy have raced once at this meet, finishing as distant also-rans in a $50,000 optional claiming race on April 20.

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