02/09/2006 12:00AM

Will Bullishdemands be back to old self?

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Bullish-demands will return to action in Saturday's six-furlong Sweetheart Handicap for older fillies and mares, and trainer Gene Davis hopes she will return to form as well.

Bullishdemands, a 4-year-old daughter of Bull Inthe Heather who races for Michael Radovich, was dominant here in the fall, defeating older rivals by open lengths in a pair of sprint stakes. She finished a dull seventh in the one-mile City of Roses Handicap on Dec. 10, however, and has not raced since.

It may sound as though something went amiss for Bullishdemands in the City of Roses, but Davis said that was not the case.

"She didn't have any trouble in the race, and she came out of it just fine," he said. "She just didn't run, and the only excuse I can think of is that she was in heat at that time. Fillies react differently to being in heat, but for some it can really throw them off their game. I'm guessing that was what happened to her."

Davis said he backed off on Bullishdemands's training, but that she never left his barn.

"The owner was afraid she would hurt herself if we turned her out, so I kept her here and jogged her a couple of times a week," he said. "As a result, she never really lost much of her fitness. I have worked her three times for the Sweetheart, and I think she is ready. I'm hoping she'll be the same filly she was early in the meeting."

Davis said he will take precautions to ensure that Bullishdemands is not in heat this weekend.

Quartern must turn it around

Another who will be looking to return to form in the Sweetheart is Quartern, who won three straight stakes here last season. Quartern, a 4-year-old daughter of Danjur from the barn of trainer Ben Root, made her first start at the stand in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance on Jan. 28. Though bet down to 3-2, Quartern never entered contention and finished sixth under Juan Gutierrez, beaten more than a dozen lengths.

"Everything went wrong in that race," said Root. "She broke crooked and Juan banged his foot on the gate, then she got hung out impossibly wide on the turn. She probably needed the race, anyway, so I'm inclined to throw it out."

Root said he is somewhat concerned that Quartern didn't get enough out of her prep race, but noted that she came back with a strong half-mile workout last Sunday.

"Between the race and the workout, she should be a lot fitter this time," said Root. "I'm expecting her to run a much better race."

Ballou Slew targets Oregon Derby

Leading trainer Jim Fergason said he has no immediate plans for Ballou Slew, who upset heavily favored Tom Two in last Saturday's six-furlong Flying Lark Stakes, but he has a long-term goal.

"We'll point him toward the Oregon Derby in May, but for now I'll just play it by ear," he said. "I'm really pleased with the way he has come along, but I'm not in any hurry to run him back."

Ballou Slew, an impressive winner over maiden special weight company in his Jan. 21 debut, was making only his second start in the Flying Lark. Nevertheless, he challenged four-time stakes winner Tom Two from the start, put that rival away after a half-mile in 45.19 seconds, and drew out to win by 4 1/2 lengths in a rapid 1:11.21 under rider Clark Jones.

"I didn't plan to duel with Tom Two, but he dragged me up there," said Jones. "I wasn't really worried about it because I had a ton of horse under me. It seemed like he was just much the best."

Javier Ortega, who rides Tom Two for owner and trainer Delmer Webb, promised that Tom Two will put up a better fight next time.

"Delmer wanted to try him without blinkers, but he wasn't the same horse without blinkers," said Ortega. "He didn't break as sharply, and he ran the whole way with his head up. I'm sure the blinkers will go back on for his next race, and I think that will make a big difference."

Tribe to boost purses again

The Muckleshoot Indian tribe has renewed its economic partnership with Emerald Downs, assuring that the track will be able to match last season's record purse distribution of $108,175 per day at its upcoming meeting.

The tribe, which owns the land upon which Emerald sits, originally contributed $1.6 million to supplement purses for the last 20 days of the 2004 meeting and for all of last year's 101-day meeting. That contribution was credited for last season's record purse distribution, which helped to increase Emerald's field size from 7.25 horses per race in 2004 to 7.83 last year. The larger field size helped spur an 11.2 percent increase in total wagering to $1,380,732 per day.

The exact amount of the tribe's latest contribution will depend upon how much purse money the track generates from wagering on live and simulcast racing, but Susie Sourwine, the track's vice president for marketing, said it will be substantial.

"It's true we are racing 10 fewer days this year, but we ended last year's meeting with an overpayment of more than $200,000 in purses, and we will have 10 fewer days of offseason simulcasting," she said. "We wouldn't have been able to match last year's purses without this contribution."

Emerald opened last weekend for training to prepare for the 2006 meeting, which will run 91 days from April 21 through Oct. 1. Director of racing Paul Ryneveld said 502 horses were on the grounds as of Tuesday.