08/25/2009 12:00AM

Belvoir has speed plus closer


AUBURN, Wash. - Emerald Downs swings into the final five weeks of the 2009 meeting Thursday with an eight-race card starting at 6 p.m. The feature race, a $15,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, attracted a field of nine topped by front-runners Le Weaver and Seattle Game.

Trained by Vann Belvoir, who is involved in a spirited three-way battle for the training title, Le Weaver will be making her fourth start at the meeting. She finished second behind Fantasyville in a $17,500 claimer in her season debut, led throughout against $15,000 foes in her second start, and then finished sixth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, after setting the pace in an allowance race in her last start July 26. Breaking from the rail under Gallyn Mitchell, she figures to be a prominent pace factor once again.

Belvoir, third in the standings with 45 wins, also will saddle Primadonna Pearl in Thursday's feature. She rallied strongly to win a conditioned $15,000 claimer in her last start and picks up leading rider Ricky Frazier. A contested pace could set her up for a winning run.

Doris Harwood, atop the trainer standings with 48 victories, will send out Lotta Passion, third in a $12,500 claimer for nonwinners of two races in her last start, and Jadie Cahill, who is stepping up in class after two consecutive victories for $12,500. Like Primadonna Pearl, Jadie Cahill would stand to benefit if the pacesetters go too fast early.

Tim McCanna is second in the trainer standings with 47 wins, and while he's not represented in the feature, he has six horses entered Thursday. McCanna, who is seeking his ninth Emerald training title, saddled a record 66 winners last summer. Belvoir and Harwood are seeking their first titles, though Harwood has topped the all-important earnings list the past two seasons.

Jose Navarro, having one of his best seasons at Emerald Downs, will saddle Seattle Game in the feature. A three-time winner at the meeting, Seattle Game faltered against $20,000 older horses in her last start after dueling through quick fractions. Breaking from post 7 under Juan Gutierrez, she figures to engage Le Weaver from the outset.

Other top contenders include Fantasyville, a two-time winner at the meeting who finished fifth against males in her last start, and Gang Leader, who has only one victory in nine lifetime starts but was a fast-closing second behind Seattle Game in her last outing.