11/09/2001 12:00AM

Tough separating Diane Kem crowd

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Fourteen fillies and mares were nominated to Sunday's five-furlong,

$7,500-added Diane Kem Handicap at Portland Meadows, and director of racing Jerry Kohls assigned 117 pounds or more to 10 of them. That is a clear indication of the depth of quality in the division, which should prove to be the most competitive on the grounds.

Sunday's Diane Kem figures to be especially contentious, since several of the most distinguished members of the field could be a race away from their best effort, or slightly past it.

Amberrae, who was named the top older filly or mare at last year's meet, was sidelined more than six months recovering from stress. She looked like a short horse when she returned on

Oct. 28 to run an unthreatening second as the heavy favorite in a five-furlong allowance prep.

A 4-year-old daughter of Tip on Slew, Amberrae wasn't asked for all she could give that day, and she will surely benefit from the race, but she would need to take a very substantial step forward to improve her record of 11 wins from 20 starts on Sunday.

Oh Molly, who was voted Oregon-bred horse of the year for 1999, has even more catching up to do. Trained by Carol Wilson, the 7-year-old Oh Molly won

2 of 4 starts last summer at Emerald, but she was turned out after her last outing on July 8 and has been back in training only four weeks.

"We really weren't planning to race her until December, but after they shortened this race to five furlongs we decided to give her a shot," said Wilson. "It might be pushing things a little, but she is doing awfully well."

Conversely, Alyssa Lou may be in need of a rest. The winner of last season's Janet Wineberg Stakes recovered to run a very creditable second after breaking slowly in a five-furlong allowance here on Oct. 27, but she has not been out of training since she came to the track in the summer of 2000, and she has raced 13 times in the past year.

"I'd like to turn her out," confessed trainer Jonathan Nance, who also trained last season's champion 3-year-old filly, Hurricane Rylie. "She is still training well, though, and Hurricane Rylie isn't quite ready to take her place. We're trying to get one or two more good races out of her."

If the big guns in Sunday's lineup aren't up to their best performances, the Diane Kem could provide the setting for Wegota Slewzy to break through with her first stakes victory. A 4-year-old daughter of Tip on Slew and local stakes winner Wegota Ghost, Wegota Slewzy has posted three allowance wins and three stakes placings, including a nose loss to the venerable Knight Cover in last spring's Flashaway Stakes. She prepped for the Diane Kem by showing the way for male competition in the Inaugural Stakes here on opening day, and trainer Ted Nonamaker feels her time might be at hand.

"We probably shouldn't have run her in the Inaugural, but she was only beaten about three lengths, and she got a lot out of that race," said the trainer. "We've got her back where she belongs now, and I think she is ready.

It's a very tough field that she'll be meeting, but I have always liked this filly. They are going to have to catch her, and it won't be easy."

Winter sale books 328

Catalogs are now available for the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association's Winter Mixed Sale, which will be held Dec. 2 in the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Emerald Downs.

A total of 328 entries have been cataloged, including 16 horses of racing age, 38 weanlings, 205 yearlings, 63 broodmares, a stallion, and five stallion shares.

Included among the yearlings are nine by Delineator, sire of 2001 Oak Leaf Stakes winner Tali'sluckybusride, and nine by Game Plan, the sire of six 2-year-old winners at the most recent Emerald Downs meeting. Also represented by yearlings are such nationally prominent stallions as Banker's Gold, Glitterman, Indian Charlie, Langfuhr, Lit de Justice, Louis Quatorze, and Loup Sauvage.