08/17/2004 11:00PM

Americas Pride takes the plunge

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AUBURN, Wash. - Americas Pride drops to the $8,000 claiming level on Friday, when she will attempt to regain her winning stride against eight other 3-year-old fillies in the one-mile feature at Emerald Downs.

Americas Pride, an Oregon-bred daughter of Baquero from the barn of trainer Bill Thompson, won four races last year as a juvenile, including the Knights Choice Stakes at this track and the Janet Wineberg Memorial at Portland Meadows. She is winless in six outings as a 3-year-old, but she has been meeting considerably tougher competition than she will face on Friday.

She ran a good second going a mile against $20,000 claimers in June, and she is coming off an even fifth-place effort in a mile race against $25,000 company just a week ago. Gallyn Mitchell retains the mount at 116 pounds.

Among Americas Pride's challengers is Ms. Tahoe Ridge, who is coming off a sharp win over $7,500 company on Aug. 5, when she got 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18 to post her third victory at the meeting. Ms. Tahoe Ridge, who is trained by Steve Bullock, paid a hefty $49.80 to win that race and will be out to show that her effort was no fluke. She is unproven at a mile, however, having tired to finish far back in her prior mile try, against $12,500 claimers in June.

Also dangerous is Bobbie Wagner, who defeated $12,500 company at a mile on July 17, when she led throughout to score by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:38.60. Bobbie Wagner, a Son of Briartic filly from the barn of trainer Frank Lucarelli, returned to finish fifth under the same conditions in her last start on July 30. She set a pressured pace through a fast half-mile in 46 seconds that day and may be able to get clear with slower fractions in Friday's test.

Another possibility is Maid in Monroe, who is the only member of the field with two mile wins. Maid in Monroe, a Gilded Time filly trained by Craig Roberts, graduated at the $6,250 level going a mile on May 31, then came back on June 19 to defeat $7,500 winners at the same distance. She was well beaten in two subsequent mile tries, however, and will need a return to her best form to contend.