04/18/2007 11:00PM

Auburn prep looks wide open


AUBURN, Wash. - Six 3-year-olds, several of whom are prepping for the $45,000 Auburn Stakes on May 13, will make their season debuts in Saturday's $50,000 optional claiming feature at Emerald Downs.

Favoritism in the 5 1/2-furlong race is up for grabs, but Liberty for Al, Windsong at Last, and Onehundred Days were all stakes-placed here as juveniles and seem certain to draw support.

Liberty for Al, from the barn of trainer Doris Harwood, ran second in the 5 1/2-furlong Strong Ruler Stakes last August before defeating maiden special weight rivals on Sept. 10, when he ran six furlongs in 1:09.80. Liberty for Al wrapped up his 2-year-old campaign with a creditable fourth in the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity on Sept. 30. He has trained especially well this spring, posting a 46.40-second half-mile drill three weeks ago, and may hold a slight edge.

Windsong at Last, trained by Jim Penney, won his maiden at the $40,000 claiming level last year, then capped a six-race campaign with a good second to divisional leader Immigration in the Captain Condo Stakes on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 17.

Onehundred Days, trained by Tim McCanna, also defeated $40,000 maiden claimers before running second in the Emerald Express, third in the Strong Ruler, and fifth in the Captain Condo.

A Touch of Malice, who defeated $12,500 maidens by a resounding 10 1/2 lengths in his 2-year-old debut, appears to be the speed of the speed in the lineup.