09/09/2005 12:00AM

Unbeaten Tusko T. tops Lads


AUBURN, Wash. - Tusko T. will head a field of seven 2-year-olds in Sunday's $50,000 WTBA Lads Stakes, the first mile race for the division at the Emerald meeting.

Tusko T., a homebred son of You and I who races for Al Benton, is undefeated in two starts. He beat maiden special weight company by two lengths in his 5 1/2-furlong debut on June 26, then returned to win the July 30 running of the six-furlong Emerald Express Stakes by three-quarters of a length in 1:09.60. Trainer Howard Belvoir has not been able to find a suitable race for Tusko T. in the past six weeks, but Tusko T. has been working extremely well. Juan Gutierrez will ride.

The only other stakes winner in the field is Tom Two, a 4 1/4-length winner of the restricted Strong Ruler Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 20. Tom Two led throughout to win the Strong Ruler in 1:17.80 in his fifth career start. Tom Two, who races for breeders Delmer and Shirley Webb, also posted a front-running win over $40,000 maidens at 5 1/2 furlongs in July and seems likely to be the pacesetter in the Lads. Trainer Eulia Bischoff has named Ricky Frazier to ride.

Also a threat is Raise the Bluff, a stoutly bred son of Pine Bluff and an A.P. Indy mare who seems likely to appreciate Sunday's distance. Raise the Bluff, who is trained by Junior Coffey for owner Ron Crockett, finished an even fourth to Tusko T. in the Emerald Express, but he was an impressive winner over maiden special weight company in his prior outing on July 17. Kevin Krigger will ride.