02/02/2006 12:00AM

Tom Two looks ready to pick up where he left off


PORTLAND, Ore. - Tom Two raced 11 times last year as a 2-year-old, winning five races and nearly $87,000, and capped the grueling campaign with a hard-fought victory over Cascadians Cuttie in the one-mile Os West Oregon Futurity on Dec. 31.

Owner and trainer Delmer Webb gave Tom Two the month of January off to freshen up, but he was back on the Portland Meadows track Sunday morning and appeared eager to get back to work. Under regular rider Javier Ortega, Tom Two drilled a strong half-mile in 49.20 seconds in company with his stablemate Cajun Way. Tom Two broke off a length or two behind Cajun Way, a maiden, but he quickly caught up and they raced in tandem to the wire.

"He felt good," said Ortega. "He is on top of his game right now. The other horse has a lot of talent. He just has to get his act together in the afternoon."

Webb hopes to run Cajun Way in a maiden special weight race here this weekend. As for Tom Two, he will go in Saturday's $10,000 Flying Lark Stakes at six furlongs.

"I'm not really concerned about his fitness," said Webb. "He is coming off a series of hard races, and he didn't lose much conditioning while he was away. He probably benefited from the rest, because he is acting very sharp now. I'm sure he'll have to meet some new horses on Saturday, but he's ready to take them on."

Tom Two's most persistent foe, Cascadians Cuttie, is sidelined by a minor injury. Ballou Slew and Silver River should offer stern opposition, however. Ballou Slew, a son of Slewdledo trained by Jim Fergason, was an impressive 6 3/4-length winner over maiden special weight company here on Jan. 21.

"I'm not crazy about giving away so much experience to Tom Two, but there is no place else to run him," said Fergason. "At least it will give us a gauge as to where he's at. He seems like a nice horse."

Silver River, a Klinsman gelding trained by Jonathan Nance, has won his last two starts, including a victory over stablemate Mountain Band in the six-furlong OTBA Stallion Stakes on Jan. 21. Nance said he will likely run both horses in the Flying Lark, but he shared Fergason's lack of enthusiasm about taking on Tom Two.

"If Tom Two runs his race, we'll probably be running for second money," he said. "My horses are doing well, though, and they need a race."

Hot-riding Jones reaches milestone

Last weekend was a memorable one for rider Clark Jones, who posted his 1,000th Thoroughbred win aboard Touched an Angel in Sunday's fourth race. Jones, a 40-year-old native of Utah, also has 314 wins aboard Quarter Horses and another 107 wins aboard other breeds. He notched his 100th Quarter Horse win at Portland Meadows aboard Lilys Hidden Secret in last Saturday's fourth race.

Milestones aside, Jones has simply been hot in 2006. Through 12 days of racing in the new year, he has posted 18 wins from 74 mounts (24 percent), including four stakes wins. He enters this week's racing just three wins behind Jose Zunino and Javier Ortega, who share the lead in the jockey standings with 48 wins apiece.

Speedy Wheatie swift in debut

The most impressive performer here last weekend might have been Speedy Wheatie, who won his debut over maiden special weight runners in Saturday's last race by a resounding 11 1/4 lengths after six furlongs in 1:11.61. He earned a 66 Beyer Speed Figure, much faster than par for the class level. Speedy Wheatie, a 4-year-old son of Wheaton, is trained by Dan Tanory for owner and breeder Don Jackson of Grants Pass, Ore.

Tanory said a series of minor ailments kept Speedy Wheatie from racing as a 3-year-old, and that his debut was eagerly awaited.

"He had outworked every horse we could find to work with him, so we had high hopes," said Tanory. "He is a stud horse, though, so I couldn't be sure how he would behave in a race. He did everything right, and I was very happy with him."

Tanory said Speedy Wheatie will probably remain here for the entire meeting.

"It's just a matter of whether we can find races for him," he said. "He is an Oregon-bred, so Don would prefer to race him in Oregon."

* Leading trainer Jim Fergason saddled all four of the winners in Sunday's pick four, which paid $261. The quartet included everybody's single, Colony Lane, who posted his seventh straight win in the sixth race.

* Comesmilewithme fell short of a dubious mark held by Zippy Chippy, who retired a maiden after 100 races in 2004. Comesmilewithme, a 7-year-old mare trained by Billy Christian, finally won in her 57th start in Sunday's third race.

* Trainer Grant Forster reported that last year's winner of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, No Giveaway, sustained a pulled suspensory ligament and a cracked sesamoid bone at Santa Anita last week and will not race again. No Giveaway retires with 6 wins from 13 starts for $217,886 in earnings.