05/30/2006 12:00AM

'Banker' too sharp to handle


AUBURN, Wash. - Gold Rush Banker heads the feature race on the first Thursday card of the meeting, a $15,000 starter handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs which has drawn a field of six.

The track will continue to race on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis through the end of the meeting on Oct. 1.

Gold Rush Banker, a 4-year-old from the barn of trainer Richard Wright, enjoyed a terrific 3-year-old campaign. He won 5 of 11 starts and ran second 3 times, with 4 of his wins coming at Emerald Downs. Gold Rush Banker has raced only once at 4, defeating allowance company at Turf Paradise by six widening lengths while getting six furlongs in 1:09.20 on Jan. 7. He obviously fits snugly under $15,000 starter handicap conditions, and he has trained very smartly in recent weeks. Leslie Mawing will have the mount at 119 pounds.

West Seattle Boy might offer the most serious threat to the favorite. Though unplaced in two starts at the meeting, both against optional claiming company, West Seattle Boy is taking at least a nominal drop in class on Thursday. West Seattle Boy, trained by Rigoberto Velasquez, posted 4 wins from 9 outings here last season, including a victory in a six-furlong event run under Thursday's conditions in October. Kevin Krigger will ride at 118 pounds.

Mazel Power, a 4-year-old trained by Robbie Baze, is coming off a smart win over $17,500 rivals in his first try at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 21.