04/29/2003 12:00AM

Thunder Zoot tough at a mile


AUBURN, Wash. - Thunder Zoot will attempt to transfer his sharp Portland Meadows form to Emerald Downs, something few have been able to manage this meeting, when he takes on six other $8,000 to $7,000 claimers in Thursday's one-mile feature.

The feature will go as the sixth of just seven live races on Thursday's card, the result of a shortage of fit and ready horses among the nearly 1,400 head on the grounds.

Thunder Zoot, a 5-year-old from the barn of veteran trainer Nub Norton, won 3 of 8 races at the recently concluded Portland Meadows meeting and seems nicely spotted to continue his winning ways. Thunder Zoot is a one-mile specialist, having won 6 of 14 tries at the distance, and he scored an easy 3 1/2-length victory in his last mile try in Portland, which came March 7 at the $10,000 claiming level. He has won 2 of his 19 Emerald races.

Thunder Zoot may yield the favorite's role to Windy's Halo, who was a troubled second in his six-furlong local debut against $8,000 claimers on April 20.

Windy's Halo, an 11-year-old who was claimed at Golden Gate by trainer Howard Belvoir, boasts 12 career wins and nearly $447,000 in career earnings. He is just 1 for 9 at a mile, but his last attempt at the distance in January at Golden Gate produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 81, which would be hard for his Thursday rivals to top.

The Sharon Ross-trained Themanwithebigcigr and Jones Reserve, who will race uncoupled, pose threats on the front end. Gary Baze, who rode both in their last starts at Golden Gate, has opted for Jones Reserve on Thursday.