11/11/2004 1:00AM

Western Writer's kick can foil speedsters


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It is very possible that the two favorites, Notis Otis and One Special Hoss, will hook up early and set it up for a late-runner in the $75,000 Ascot Graduation at Hastings on Saturday. If workouts are any indication, Western Writer could be that horse.

Western Writer followed up his strong win over maidens Oct. 17 with a spectacular five-furlong work in 58.80 seconds Nov. 5. A Florida-bred gelding, Western Writer has improved with each start, and he could be coming up to a peak performance.

He was purchased by owner-trainer Juan Olmos for $20,000 out of the Washington September sale last year. Olmos moved to Vancouver from Mexico three years ago and he has quickly built up a strong stable. He is hopeful that Western Writer will be his first stakes winner at Hastings.

"He's a really nice horse and I just hope he runs well," said Olmos. "I've won a couple of stakes in Mexico, and it would certainly be nice to win this one."

If Olmos is hopeful about Western Writer's chances on Saturday, Brian Phillips, Olmos's assistant, is very confident. Olmos has been very busy away from the track in the last month and Phillips has overseen all of the training.

"If they get involved in any kind of speed duel, then, according to our exercise rider, Richard Cloutier, Western Writer is going to win the race," said Phillips.

Western Writer has come a long way since his debut Aug. 29. He was sent off at 34-1 and ran like it, finishing last by 19 lengths. He improved slightly in his second start, making a bit of a late move to finish seventh. It was his next start where he showed his potential by finishing a fast-closing third.

"He should have won that race," said Phillips. "He was flying by horses going down the backstretch, but he ran into a wall of horses at the head of the lane." At that point, said Phillips, jockey Cayetano Chaparro "had to stand up on him.

"He needed his first two races for the experience," Phillips said, "but he's coming around now."

When a 2-year-old works as quickly as Western Writer did, you would expect him to show a lot of speed when he runs. Phillips, however, doesn't think he will be near the lead when they run the race Saturday.

"We've tried every type of blinkers to help get him running when he leaves the starting gate, but it's just not his style, and I expect he's going to remain a nice come-from-behind horse," Phillips said. "He's going to need some help up front. If One Special Hoss gets out there by himself, we're probably not going to catch him."

While Olmos is very pleased with the year he's having, he was also looking toward the future. He has six yearlings being broken right now, and he is planning on sending a couple of his mares to Kentucky to be bred. One of them, Poras, will be sent to Devil His Due.

"According to Richard Yates, who knows a lot about breeding, Poras is closely related to the dam of Roses in May, and that she would be a good match with Devil His Due," Olmos said.

Yates, also a trainer, was right on the money. Poras started only four times and won two races. Her dam is Playful Secret, who was unraced but is a half-sister to Roses in May, who was second in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic. Olmos claimed Poras for $8,000 in May but ran her only once before retiring her.

Looking for a turf spot for Rules of War

Trainer Rob Gilker was very pleased with how Rules of War ran in the Bay Meadows Derby last Saturday. Rules of War came from far back to finish fifth in a roughly run race, and was placed fourth when the stewards disqualified Hendrix from third and placed him last.

The race was the first time Rules of War had raced on the turf, and although Gilker brought Rules of War back to Hastings, he was looking for another opportunity to try him again on the turf in Northern California.

"The racing secretary told me there would be a nonwinners-of-three going a mile and an eighth on the turf in the next book," said Gilker. "I might even take him to Hollywood Park if some kind of overnight handicap fills down there. It's the best he's ever come out of a race. I had to put a lip-chain on him to walk him the day after, and I've never had to do that before."