06/17/2003 12:00AM

Turban won't sneak up on 'em

Email

AUBURN, Wash. - If Turban provides trainer Jim Penney with his third Longacres Mile win in the last four years, it won't be like the previous two.

Edneator paid a record $85.20 when he won the Grade 3 Mile in 2000, and Sabertooth surprised with a $37.20 payoff last year. Fans simply couldn't see them coming.

They can see Turban coming, even though it is still more than two months before the 68th running of the Longacres Mile on Aug. 24. Turban, a lightly raced son of Lord Avie, made an indelible impression when he won the 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Net Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths on May 18, and that impression was only deepened by his performance in Sunday's $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile.

Bet down to 9-5 favoritism in the field of eight, Turban immediately gave his backers cause for alarm by breaking last from the outside post. He caught up just enough to be fanned five wide entering the first turn, and rider Gallyn Mitchell had to use him hard to gain a better position, about three lengths off the pacesetting I'madrifter on the outside, which is where Turban stayed to the top of the stretch.

Meanwhile, I'madrifter, a graded stakes winner in California who went off as the 7-2 third choice, was enjoying a solo lead through reasonable-for-him fractions of 23.20, 45.80, and 1:09.20 for six furlongs. Leading by two lengths with a quarter-mile to run, and with Turban making no headway, I'madrifter appeared to be home free. But Mitchell knew better.

"I was trying to give my horse a breather on the second turn," he said. "I didn't ask him until we got straightened away in the stretch, and he dug right in."

Turban blasted by I'madrifter inside the sixteenth marker and drew out to score by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:34.60. Longshot Alfurune came from last to get up for second by a neck over I'madrifter and Moonlight Meeting, who dead-heated for third.

"Near the wire he perked his ears again, so I think he had a little something in reserve," Mitchell said. "I think we're going somewhere with this horse. I've ridden some real nice horses, but he might be the best one I've ever been on."

The Budweiser Emerald was the fourth win from six starts for Turban, who got his most thorough test to date.

"It wasn't an easy trip for him, but Gallyn used excellent judgment," Penney said. "He had to use the horse to get position on the first turn, so it was important that he gave him a breather on the second turn. The horse showed that he can lay close and still have some kick, and that's what it takes to win the Longacres Mile.

"The Mile is an open goal you keep looking at, but he has more races to run before we can really get serious about it," the trainer said. "Ideally, I'd like to run him twice more before the Mile. We'll just have to see how he comes along."

Saito wins five on Sunday's card

Scott Saito joined a select list of riders on Sunday when he booted home five winners on the card. Other riders who have won five races on a single Emerald card are Frank Gonsalves, Vann Belvoir, Pedro Alvarado, Miguel Perez, Ben Russell, Mitchell, and Kevin Radke. Radke is the only rider to have won six races on one Emerald program, a feat he accomplished on Sept. 2 of last year.

Any good day for Saito, who moved into second in the jockey standings with 34 wins, is a good day for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For the past several years, Saito has donated $5 to the foundation for each of his wins. When he moved his tack to Emerald this year, the track began matching Saito's pledge, and so did Tall Cedar Farm, El Dorado Farm, Blue Ribbon Farm, Griffin Place, Dr. Bud Hallowell, and Dan Lewis. Oak Crest Farm doubled Saito's pledge, donating $10 for each of the rider's wins.

That makes $50 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for each of Saito's wins, and $250 for his five wins on Sunday.

Makors Mark retired

Trainer Grant Forster reported that Makors Mark, the horse of the meeting at Emerald in 2001, has been retired.

Makors Mark, a 6-year-old by Son of Briartic, won 11 of 29 starts for $430,753 in earnings, with his most notable win coming in the Grade 2 British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park in 2000. Makors Mark wrenched an ankle in the Fox Sports Net Handicap on May 18 and has been slow to mend.

"It's nothing major, but we can't train him the way he needs to be trained to compete in stakes," Forster said. "It's disappointing, but he has accomplished enough and it is time to retire him. I'm just glad he is retiring fairly sound."

Forster said negotiations are under way to stand Makors Mark, who raced for a syndicate headed by Packy and Julie McMurry, either in Washington or in British Columbia.