05/20/2003 12:00AM

Turban another ace for trainer Penney


AUBURN, Wash. - Lightly raced Turban is playing catch-up no more.

In just his fifth career start and his second as a 4-year-old, Turban caught stablemate Sabertooth at the furlong marker in Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Net Handicap at Emerald Downs and powered right on by, winning by 3 1/2 lengths under Gallyn Mitchell in 1:14, just a fifth of a second off the track record. Sabertooth held second by a half-length over the fast-finishing Alfurune, a 14-1 longshot in the field of seven.

Trainer Jim Penney saddled both Turban and Sabertooth, who was making his first start since winning the Grade 3 Longacres Mile and the 1 1/16-mile Washington Championship in his final two starts at the 2002 Emerald meeting.

"We've always been very high on Turban, but we didn't get him started at 2 and we only got to run him three times last year," Penney said. "He was conceding a lot of experience to the older horses, but he has come around faster than we might have expected. I think he will probably continue to mature with racing. He was a little rank today, so there is still room for improvement. We have always felt he would be our horse to go farther."

Turban, a son of Lord Avie and Sultan's Gem, by Mehmet, races for Turban Racing, a partnership that includes breeder Debbie Pabst, Rob Wunsch, Walter Remak, and the Penney family's own Homestretch Farm.

"Debbie put him through the yearling sale here, but he didn't bring his reserve," Penney said of Turban. "She sent him to our farm after the sale and we liked him, so we put together this partnership. He is the first horse that Rob has ever owned."

The emergence of Turban, who has now won three of his five starts, gives the Penney barn an embarrassment of riches in the local handicap division. Penney is in the rare position of training two former Longacres Mile winners in Sabertooth and Edneator, who won the race in 2000, and he also trains Salt Grinder, the holder of the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs and the beaten favorite in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap on April 27.

"We're not really expecting Edneator to run with the younger horses anymore, and Salt Grinder is a British Columbia-bred, so we'll run him at Hastings Park whenever we can," said Penney. "Turban and Sabertooth are apt to hook up more often, but that's the way it goes. We'll just have to send them out there and see what happens."

Ema Bovary back for Legislators

Ema Bovary heads a list of 10 fillies and mares nominated to Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Stakes.

Ema Bovary, a Chilean-bred 4-year-old who races for Rick Beal and Lana Ramsey, is coming off a sensational win in the 6 1/2-furlong Hastings Park Handicap here on May 4, when she won by more than two lengths in 1:14.40 despite breaking slowly. She came back and worked a half-mile in a best-of-37 46.60 seconds on May 11 and continues to thrive, according to trainer Larry Ross. But she will face a stern challenge on Sunday from Canadian invader Elana d'Amour.

Elana d'Amour, trained by Brian Giesbrecht, won five stakes at Hastings Park en route to top B.C.-bred 3-year-old filly honors last season, and she began her 4-year-old campaign with a two-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Strawberry Morn Stakes at Hastings.

Also among the nominees are Whatdidshe-say, the Hastings Park Handicap runner-up, and Princess Forever, an impressive allow-ance winner here on May 11 for trainer Bill Tollett.

Flying Notes awaits seasonal debut

Trainer Bud Klokstad said that Flying Notes continues to train forwardly for his 4-year-old debut. Flying Notes was named last season's horse of the meeting after winning five times, including an 11 1/4-length victory in the Emerald Derby.

Flying Notes posted a pair of three-furlong works before drilling a half-mile in 48.60 seconds last Friday, when his work was the fastest of 14 at the distance. Klokstad hasn't settled on a race for Flying Notes, whose ultimate goal is the Grade 3 Longacres Mile on Aug. 24.

* Jockey Juan Gutierrez, who was the leading rider at Portland Meadows last winter, exploded with four wins on Sunday's card at Emerald. His scores included a victory in the nightcap on Clay City, whose $55 win payoff is the highest at the meeting.

* David Tollett, assistant trainer to his father, Bill Tollett, reported that Top Bracket died last winter as a result of complications from shipping to Phoenix. Top Bracket, a stretch-running mare with only one eye, won last season's Boeing and Belle Roberts handicaps and earned $147,440 for owners David and Elaine Parks.