09/05/2001 11:00PM

Best in field: Neon Queen


AUBURN, Wash. - Neon Queen will have her chance to shine at Emerald Downs on Saturday, when she heads a cast of seven in the $25,000 John and Kitty Fletcher Memorial Overnight Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The John and Kitty Fletcher is restricted to 3-year-old Washington-bred fillies who have not won a stakes this season, and Neon Queen barely qualifies. The Bud Klokstad-trained filly missed winning the 1 1/16-mile Paragon Handicap on July 21 by a neck when she was nipped by Aunt Sophie at the wire. That was Neon Queen's first race after Klokstad claimed her for $40,000 on July 4 for owners David Taylor and A.J. Segale.

Since her stakes placing, Neon Queen has run second against allowance company at a mile and fifth in the nine-furlong Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks at nine furlongs on Aug. 18. Though her recent races have been routes, Neon Queen collected her maiden win early this season at six furlongs, and she is a half-sister to sprint star Weaving Justice. Klokstad has tabbed Hector Ventura Jr. to ride Saturday at 115 pounds.

From Venus, who finished fourth in the Paragon before edging Neon Queen in a mile allowance on Aug. 4, may be her sternest challenger on Saturday. She has won three of six starts this season and five of 16 in her career, while none of her rivals have won more than two races.

Also dangerous is the lightly raced Knight Weave, who will be seeking her third straight win. Knight Weave defeated maiden special weight company at six furlongs on July 14, then came back to beat allowance foes at 6 1/2 furlongs in her most recent outing on Aug. 18.

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