07/05/2007 11:00PM

Sudden Departure turns tables on She's All Silk


AUBURN, Wash. - She's All Silk's speed is an awesome weapon, as she demonstrated when she blitzed her field in last month's Washington State Legislators Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, however, and that appeared to be the case in Wednesday's one-mile King County Handicap for fillies and mares.

Breaking sharply from the outside post under regular rider Ricky Frazier, She's All Silk quickly cleared her eight rivals and opened a daylight lead that just kept growing. By the time she had sped six furlongs in 1:08.60, she was six lengths in front of Sudden Departure in second.

"I kept trying to gear her down, but every time I took a little hold she strained at the bit," said Frazier. "She just wouldn't come back to me."

Even so, She's All Silk retained an advantage inside the sixteenth marker, and she fought back gallantly when Sudden Departure came to her. Sudden Departure had a bit more left when push came to shove, however, prevailing by half a length in a stakes-record clocking of 1:34.20.

"I can't fault Ricky one bit," said Pat Mullens, who trains She's All Silk for owner Ed Zenker. "He did everything he could to get her to relax, but she didn't cooperate very well. Still, she almost pulled it off."

While no one was inclined to criticize Frazier, Douglas Portillo came in for a good deal of praise for his patient ride aboard Sudden Departure. Leading the chorus was Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney, who celebrated his 73rd birthday on the Fourth of July.

"He did a really nice job," said Penney. "We like him a lot. He was one of the leading apprentices in the country, but he got overlooked riding in Southern California. He just needs some exposure."

Portillo, who moved his tack here less than a month ago on the advice of agent Tony Matos, posted his first Emerald Downs stakes victory in the King County. It was also the first stakes win for Sudden Departure, a 5-year-old daughter of Demons Begone who races for breeders Rick and Debbie Pabst.

Sudden Departure seemed to be on the verge of stardom last year when she won her seasonal debut by 5 1/2 lengths while earning an 87 Beyer, but she went unplaced through three subsequent starts.

"She just had a series of little problems last year, and it was very frustrating that we weren't able to get the best from her," said Penney's daughter and assistant, Kay Cooper. "We finally decided to turn her out and try again this year, and the owners were gracious enough to allow us to give her the time she needed."

Sudden Departure began her current campaign with a victory over $32,000 claimers, then ran second to She's All Silk in the Washington State Legislators before turning the tables on Wednesday.

The Pabsts, who bred She's All Silk as well as Sudden Departure, had named their latest stakes winner while in a rueful mood. Her dam, Impulsive, who got her own name because she was a spontaneous purchase at Keeneland, died while giving birth to Sudden Departure.

Harwood has strong hand for juvenile stakes

With no stakes on the Emerald Downs schedule for this weekend, the focus turns to the initial stakes at the meeting for 2-year-olds. The six-furlong Angie C. Stakes for juvenile fillies will be run July 15, while the male counterpart to the Angie C., the Premio Esmeralda, will go on July 21.

Trainer Doris Harwood figures to be well-represented in both of those events. Harwood has saddled four of the 18 juvenile winners at this meeting, including the winners of both of the maiden special weight races offered for males. The latest of those winners was Dat's Dream, who graduated last Sunday after running five furlongs in 56.60 seconds, the fastest clocking at the distance ever registered by a 2-year-old at Emerald Downs.

Harwood purchased Dat's Dream, a son of Langfuhr from the Valid Appeal matron Go Again Valid, for Golden Aggie Ranch at last September's Keeneland Sale, paying $67,000.

"He was the first horse I ever bought in Kentucky," reported Harwood. "I'm glad he seems to be turning out the way we hoped, because I had a lot of fun going back there to pick him out. I'd like to do it again."

Impressive as Dat's Dream was in his maiden win, he may have to take a back seat in Harwood's barn to the Northwest Farms-bred filly Smarty Deb. A half-sister by Smart Strike to three-time stakes winner Shampoo, also trained by Harwood, Smarty Deb defeated Dat's Dream and other males in the first maiden special weight race of the meeting on May 13.

"She might be the best horse I have ever trained," said Harwood. "I know it is early to say that, but she has just done every single thing right. She is so smart and so classy, I just can't help getting excited about her."

Both Dat's Dream and Smarty Deb, as well as $40,000 maiden winner Margo's Gift and $30,000 maiden winner Russian, both also trained by Harwood, are being pointed for the initial 2-year-old stakes.