07/09/2007 11:00PM

What do you do with 'Bernie'?


AUBURN, Wash. - Deciding what to do with Bernie White Shoes could be the key to handicapping success in Thursday's Emerald Downs feature, a $25,000 claiming test at 6 1/2 furlongs that has attracted a field of eight older sprinters.

Bernie White Shoes clearly has - or had - the ability the beat Thursday's rivals. Bernie White Shoes, a 4-year-old son of Hennessy from the barn of trainer Grant Forster, began his career with six straight races in which he never scored lower than an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

Bernie White Shoes went to the sidelines after a so-so grass try at Saratoga last August, however, and he has beaten just two horses in three outings since returning this spring at Keeneland. He was claimed by Forster for owners Dave and Jill Heerensperger out of his second Keeneland start for $40,000, then was gelded and did not race again until he resurfaced here in a tough allowance test on June 30. Though he had worked brilliantly for his local race and was held at 4-1, he checked in last of seven, beaten by more than 15 lengths.

Bernie White Shoes is dropping sharply for his second start off the layoff and he retains the services of leading rider Ricky Frazier.

Timbercamp and Country Cop have both won 6 1/2-furlong tests for $25,000 tags and will figure strongly if Bernie White Shoes again fails to reproduce his best form. Timbercamp won his last out in 1:16.20, while Country Cop won on May 26 in 1:15.40.