Updated on 09/17/2011 8:49PM

Truth Buster: Built to last

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Saturday's 1 1/16-mile McFadden Memorial will give Oregon-bred 3-year-olds their first chance to run beyond a mile at Portland Meadows. This is an opportunity that trainer Eulia Bischoff has been eagerly awaiting.

Bischoff will saddle Truth Buster for the McFadden, and she feels the added distance is just what he needs. In two prior routes, both at a mile, Truth Buster scored his maiden victory and finished fourth, beaten only two lengths by Wice O Kat, in the $43,000 Os West Oregon Futurity.

"Those were his two best races by far, and I've got to think another sixteenth of a mile will only help him," said Bischoff. "He is a true route horse. He is a big, stout, long-striding horse, and it seems to take him a mile just to get warmed up. A lot of horses by his sire are like that."

Truth Buster is from the first crop of the lightly raced True Confidence, who stands at Oakhurst Thoroughbreds in Newberg, Ore. True Confidence is by Storm Cat, who often imparts a good measure of speed, but his broodmare sire is Fappiano, a stamina influence, and True Confidence's progeny seem to take after Fappiano. None have distinguished themselves sprinting, but horsemen remain high on their potential as routers.

"I claimed Truth Buster at Emerald Downs because I thought he would improve going long, and he has done that," said Bischoff. "The problem is that there aren't many opportunities to go beyond a mile at this meeting. We've got to take advantage of the few chances we have, and that's why I'm counting on him to come through in this race on Saturday. He is coming into it about as well as I could hope, so I really like his chances."

A Cult Named Sue better prepared

Truth Buster might get his sternest test from A Colt Named Sue, a son of Baquero and Kimbie Lynn who races for Dean and Lois Vogt. A Colt Named Sue missed by a heartbreaking nose when making his route debut in the Os West Oregon Futurity, then came back to finish sixth in the Juvenile Mile before scoring his maiden victory last time out at five furlongs.

"I think I trained him so hard for the Os West that he was just spent by the time the Juvenile Mile rolled around," said trainer Ben Root. "He was just flat for that race, so I backed off him for a while and ran him at five furlongs to sharpen him up. Now I'm hoping he is still fit enough to go 1 1/16 miles, but also sharp. He acts like that's the case, and I think he gives me my best chance to win."

Root may also saddle Rodeo Rule for the McFadden, but the stakes isn't his first choice for the horse. Rodeo Rule is coming off an impressive four-length win over $12,500 maidens at 5 1/2 furlongs in his second career start on Jan. 22.

"I'd prefer to run him in a nonwinners-of-two sprint on Saturday, but if that race doesn't fill I'll run him in the McFadden," said Root. "He is a talented horse, but he is not as seasoned as A Colt Named Sue. He has speed to go to the front, though, and A Colt Named Sue wants to come from off the pace. Their styles will complement each other, and that's always a plus."

If either A Colt Named Sue or Rodeo Rule prevails in the McFadden, Root will notch his eighth stakes win from only 19 Thoroughbred stakes contested thus far at the meeting. Trainer Jim Fergason has six stakes wins at the stand, while Robbie Baze, Jonathan Nance, Gene Davis and Jim Sayler have one apiece.

Felipe Valdez returns

Agent Keith Drebin reported that Felipe Valdez is scheduled to resume riding this weekend. Valdez suffered cracked vertebrae when he was unseated by his mount in the City of Roses Handicap on Dec. 26, Americas Pride. The jockey had only ridden here for about two weeks at the time of the accident, but he had won aboard 7 of his 40 mounts. Drebin said Valdez has been galloping horses at Hastings Park to prepare for his return to riding.

Drebin also reported that injured riders Debbie Hoonan and Juan Gutierrez are aiming to resume riding in early March. They were first and second in the standings when they were injured in early December.

By the time Hoonan and Gutierrez return, they may find themselves chasing late arrival Javier Ortega in the race for leading rider. Ortega won seven races through the last three day's of racing, including Saturday's Sweetheart Handicap aboard Quiz the Maid, to move into a tie for second in the standings with Twyla Beckner at 38 wins apiece. Leading rider Tim Neal has 40 Thoroughbred wins at the meet.

Kay Martz, who earlier rode under her maiden name, Kay Tallman, completed her apprenticeship on Saturday when she rode the 40th winner of her career, aboard Ofcenterditchdigger in the third race.

Demon Warlock: Horse of the year

Demon Warlock has been named Washington-bred horse of the year for 2004 by the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Demon Warlock, 5, won six races and $192,990 in 2004, including the Budweiser Emerald Handicap and the Muckleshoot Trible Classic at Emerald Downs and ran third in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. Demon Warlock, trained by Terry Gillihan for owners Tim and Allen Floyd and Mike Nist, was also named Washington's top handicap horse.

Other divisional titles went to Aunt Sophie for top older filly or mare, Spanish Highway for 3-year-old colt or gelding, Grinch for 3-year-old filly, Seattles Best Joe for 2-year-old colt or gelding, and Queenledo for 2-year-old filly. Court's in Session was named the state's top sprinter, and Senfully Easy was named claimer of the year.

Mr. and Mrs. Guy Roberts were honored as the state's top breeders for 2004, and a lifetime achievement award was given to Phil Fitterer, former general manager of the Northwest office of Daily Racing Form. Breeder Jerry Woods received the S. J. Agnew Award for special achievement.