06/28/2004 11:00PM

Stregawood eyes fourth straight win

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AUBURN, Wash. - Stregawood will attempt to make it four wins in a row on Thursday at Emerald Downs when he takes on a half-dozen others at a mile in the latest leg of the Stanislaw Ashbaugh Starter Series, which offers enhanced purses for $3,200 starter allowance company.

Stregawood, a late-running son of Kirkwood who races for Fred Hepton and Mike Krause, has run off route wins in $3,200, $4,000 and $3,200 starter allowance company in his last three outings. In each of those wins, rider Nate Chaves brought Stregawood from far back to score going away.

"The little guy is really sharp now," said Hepton, a former leading trainer at Playfair. "He was dead last at the quarter pole last time, and he still got there."

Stregawood defeated Firefall by three-quarters of a length in that 1 1/16-mile race, on June 18. Firefall, an 8-year-old from the barn of Bill Tollett, again looms as Stregawood's most formidable rival. Firefall has won seven of 13 starts at Emerald Downs, and he has not been worse than second in four starts at the current meeting.

Mr. Fix is also a threat to win after his most recent outing on June 17, a 4 1/4-length victory against $3,200 foes at a mile. It was the eighth career win for Mr. Fix, a 5-year-old trained by Jim Keen. But almost all of his previous wins had come when he was able to establish a clear early lead.

In that last win, he pressed the pace of Long on Pride, then drew away to win with authority in what was probably the most impressive performance of his career.