06/03/2003 12:00AM

Youcan'ttakeme lives up to role as favorite


AUBURN, Wash. - It is impossible to fault Youcan'ttakeme's effort in Sunday's inaugural running of the Son of Briartic Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

But how much credit she deserves is another question.

On one hand, Youcan'ttakeme merely did what a 1-5 shot without any serious pace opposition is supposed to do. She cruised to the lead, dictated the fractions, and drew away from her three rivals without much urging from jockey Gary Baze, who won his fourth stakes race from five tries at the meet.

On the other, she beat Top Penny, a two-time stakes winner at Turf Paradise, by nine lengths after one mile in 1:35.20, a clocking that compares very favorably with the 1:38.20 hung up by maiden special weight winner Brave Miss, also a 3-year-old filly, in Sunday's only other one-mile race.

"I'm proud of her," said trainer Grant Forster. "I think Top Penny is a very nice filly, and she beat her very convincingly. She is a push-button horse. She does things effortlessly and she must be a joy to ride. She is certainly a joy to train."

The Son of Briartic, a severely restricted race, was Youcan'ttakeme's fifth win from nine tries, but it was her first victory from four attempts around two turns. As such, it bolstered her trainer's hopes for success in a string of upcoming route races, culminating Aug. 23 in the $100,000 Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks at nine furlongs.

"Obviously it is going to get tougher from here on out, but this race was encouraging," Forster said. "If I can keep her sound, we might be standing here in the winner's circle again after the Oaks."

Bisbee's Prospect keeps pace

The main obstacle to Youcan'ttakeme's goals is U.S. Bank Stakes winner Bisbee's Prospect, who raced Saturday in a six-furlong allowance race for 3-year-old fillies. Sent off at 1-2 under leading rider Kevin Radke, who won four races on the card, Bisbee's Prospect stalked the early pacesetters, burst to the lead along the rail in the upper stretch, and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Happyeverafter in 1:09.60.

"She wasn't eligible for the Son of Briartic, so I'm glad this race filled for her," said trainer Bob McMeans. "I think it helped that not many wanted to run against Youcan'ttakeme on Sunday."

McMeans said he wouldn't mind taking on Youcan'ttakeme in the Irish Day Handicap at 1 1/16 miles June 29. Bisbee's Prospect finished 6 1/4 lengths behind her rival when they met last in the 6 1/2-furlong Federal Way Handicap May 11, but McMeans doesn't feel that was a definitive test.

"She got hung out wide in the deep going that day, and she wouldn't relax," he said. "She can do better."

Easy Enough takes third straight

What has gotten into Easy Enough? Last year at 3, Easy Enough lost to some of the slowest horses on the grounds, finishing sixth, for example, against $6,250 maidens in his debut. Trainer Terry Gillihan claimed him that day for owner Larry Hillis and Easy Enough managed a maiden win from four subsequent starts, but he gave no warning that he would become one of the fastest sprinters on the grounds.

Sunday, he posted his third consecutive win in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race that drew a field of six horses, including stakes winners Road Afleet, Salt Grinder, and Handy N Bold. Easy Enough prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Do's Buckshot in 1:14.80.

"He has always been a big, good-looking horse, and that was why I wanted to claim him," Gillihan said. "He was green last year, though, and his shins were bugging him, so we turned him out and gelded him.

"When we brought him back this year he was a lot kinder, and now he has developed into a total professional. I think gelding him made the biggest difference."

* Young Jack and Jillybell, one of two sets of twin horses in training at Emerald, got their careers off to a bumpy start last weekend, with Young Jack finishing fifth in a $6,250 maiden race Saturday and Jillybell running seventh in a $6,250 maiden race for fillies Sunday. The 3-year-olds are half-siblings to Sabertooth, winner of last year's Grade 3 Longacres Mile.

* As of Tuesday morning, the Washington Horse Racing Commission had received no communication from Eric Nelson regarding whether he would voluntarily surrender his license to operate Playfair. Nelson, who informed the commission last week that Playfair will not run in 2003, had promised to tell the commission of his decision by the close of business last Friday.