11/14/2002 1:00AM

Wegota Ghost is one hot momma


PORTLAND, Ore. - For the past 14 years, Bill and Geraldine Johnson have been living with a ghost. It's not as if they didn't ask for it, though.

Gerry Johnson explains: "We bought a mare called Ben's Bunny, and we bred her to a gray stallion named No Back Talk because we wanted a gray foal. When she was in foal I used to rub her belly and ask, 'Have you got a ghost in there?'

"Well, sure enough, she had a gray filly, and when Bill came back from the barn to tell me about it, he said: 'We've got a ghost.' So that was what we named her."

Wegota Ghost was a brilliant 2-year-old, winning all three of her starts, including the Janet Wineberg Stakes and the Lassie Stakes at Portland Meadows. She won once more at 3 before being retired to the Johnson farm in St. Helens, Ore.

"She was a very fast filly, and most of her babies have taken after her," said Gerry Johnson. "They are all built like Quarter Horses, and all have real nice dispositions."

Wegota Ghost's most accomplished foal is the 5-year-old mare Wegota Slewzy, a five-time winner who has placed in three stakes. Another of her foals, the 3-year-old Gold for Ghost, notched his second win in an allowance race here last Saturday. A third, the 2-year-old Roada Ghost, will attempt to follow in her dam's footsteps when she runs in the $14,980 Janet Wineberg Stakes at six furlongs on Saturday.

Roada Ghost, who is by Cisco Road, has raced only once, but she made a very positive impression. Coming out in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight here on Oct. 27, Roada Ghost stalked the pace from third place, came through along the rail to take the lead turning for home, and drew out to win by nearly five lengths in 1:08.

"She didn't do anything wrong," trainer Jim Fergason said. "She seems like a real professional filly, but we're still finding out what we have. I'm not sure what she'll hook in the Janet Wineberg, but it should give us a better idea of what kind of filly she is. If she wins that one, we'll start getting excited about her."

Stately Jack Flash's start No. 2

Sunday's colt and gelding counterpart to the Janet Wineberg, the six-furlong, $12,920 Bill Wineberg Stakes, figures to serve as a proving ground for another well-bred 2-year old. He is Stately Jack Flash, who races for breeders and owners Jack and Cookie Root, and is a full brother to the two-time stakes-placed 3-year-old filly Stately's Choice. Stately Jack Flash had worked so sensationally leading up to his debut against maiden special weight company on opening day Oct. 19 that he was bet down to 4-5.

Stately Jack Flash won that race, but he raced greenly through the stretch and seemed fortunate to stave off the closing charge of Dance with Pride by half a length in 1:07.80 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

"I've never been so disappointed after a win," said Jack Root. "He had worked like a rocket in the mornings, but he really wasn't very impressive in his race.

"I think I know what we did wrong, though. He had never been touched by a whip, and that is something we should have gotten him used to in the mornings. When the rider hit him at the eighth pole it seemed to startle him, and he lost his concentration.

"He was plum [angry] when I got to him, and he stayed that until we got him back in his stall. He is a very expressive horse, and he let us know he wasn't happy."

Commission hearing on Bute soon

The Oregon Racing Commission will consider a rule change that would allow 2-year-olds to race with the anti-inflammatory medication phenylbutazone, or Bute, when it meets on Nov. 21, at the Portland State Office Building at 800 NE Oregon St. in Portland.

A morning session to hear public comment on dozens of proposed changes in the Oregon Administrative Rules governing horseracing will begin at 9:30 a.m. The move to allow phenylbutazone in 2-year-olds should draw considerable debate. Most states, including Washington, allow 2-year-olds to race with the medication, but Oregon currently allows phenylbutazone only in 3-year-olds and older horses.