12/02/2005 12:00AM

Tom Two battles 'Cascadians' again

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Round two of what figures to be a prolonged rivalry between Tom Two and Cascadians Cuttie will take place in Sunday's $10,000 Columbia River Stakes at six furlongs, and both juveniles will have their partisans.

Tom Two won the initial match-up in the Bill Wineberg Stakes on Nov. 19, when he led throughout six furlongs in 1:13 to prevail over Cascadians Cuttie by two lengths. Cascadians Cutttie might have had more than two lengths of trouble in the Bill Wineberg, however, as rider Debbie Hoonan was forced to check repeatedly on the backstretch.

"It was just an unfortunate situation, and it was all the more galling because it was one of our other horses, Lovers Cascadian, who kept lugging in to take his path," said trainer Ben Root. "Those things can happen when you break from the inside.

"He was checking for an eighth of a mile in that last race, and I've got to think that made the difference. He came out of the race very well, though, and I still like him a bunch."

Tom Two didn't need an excuse in the Bill Wineberg, but he had one. Owner and trainer Delmer Webb said Tom Two stopped eating a couple of days before that race.

"I don't know if it affected the way he ran, but it sure had me worried," said Webb. "I had him checked out and we couldn't find a thing wrong with him, but you never like to see them go off their feed. The funny thing is that he started eating again right after the race, and he seems to be back to his old self. Now I just have to hold his condition for a couple more weeks."

Both Tom Two and Cascadians Cuttie are using the Columbia River as a final prep for the $40,000 Os West Oregon Futurity on Dec. 17. Tom Two will be trying to follow in the footsteps of two of his older siblings, Cyamaria and Tom Won. Cyamaria won the Futurity in 1999, and Tom Won won the race in 2003.

Cascades Express might try Futurity

Cascades Express, who will contest Sunday's six-furlong Lassie Stakes for juvenile fillies, may be prepping for the Futurity, as well. Cascades Express is also eligible for the six-furlong Jane Driggers Debutante on the Dec. 17 Oregon Championship Day card, however, and trainer Jonathan Nance said he is in no hurry to decide where to run his filly next.

"I'll see how she runs on Sunday, and I'll see how the boys look. Then I'll make a decision," he said. "I don't want to knock her out, but I don't want to pass up the Futurity money if I think she can win it, either. Around here, you've got to take what you can get while you can get it."

Nance got the Futurity money in 2000 with Hurricane Rylie, the second of three fillies to win the Futurity in the last six years. He said he feels that Cascades Express, who won the Janet Wineberg Stakes by almost eight lengths on Nov. 19, might be good enough to win the Futurity, as well.

"It's hard to tell how good she is, because the Janet Wineberg was only her second race," he said. "She was still pretty green, and I know she has a lot of improvement left in her. She came out of her last race really well, and I'm expecting her to take another step forward on Sunday."

That's bad news for Cascades Express's rivals in the Lassie, who will include Tracy's Nightmare. On the strength of her third-place finish against the boys in the OTBA Sales Stakes, Tracy's Nightmare went off as the 6-5 favorite in the Janet Wineberg, but she faded to fourth after sprinting clear early.

"I'm not sure what went wrong, but I'm afraid she just got beat by a better filly," said trainer Ben Root. "The track was pretty soft last time, though, and I thought that worked against her. She'll probably carry her speed farther on a harder track, so I'm hoping we'll get some rain to pack it down."

Tamper proving tough to catch

Tamper secured his spot atop the local handicap division with another wire-to-wire score in last Saturday's William Kyne, which he won by a half-length over My Friend Dave. The winning time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:47.20.

As they did in the Polynesian Flyer Handicap on Nov. 5, Tamper and rider Jose Zunino were able to back up the pace through a half-mile in 48.80 seconds, which left plenty in the tank for the stretch drive.

"It was pretty much the same story as last time," said trainer Jim Fergason. "As long as he gets to set his own pace, he'll be tough to catch."

The problem for Tamper's rivals is that there may be only one horse on the grounds capable of matching strides with him early. That is his stablemate, Colony Lane, who posted his fourth straight win with an 8 1/4-length victory over $10,000 claimers on Sunday.

Both horses race for owner David Green, who has made five consecutive trips to the winner's circle, and Fergason said he has no intention of running them against each other.