07/14/2009 12:00AM

Beyers point to Miss Fast Dancer

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AUBURN, Wash. - Miss Fast Dancer looms a short-priced favorite Thursday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The seventh race on an eight-race card, the feature is a $12,500 claimer for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Miss Fast Dancer dominated a group of $15,000 claimers at Thursday's distance in her most recent outing, pressing the pace and then drawing off to win by 7 1/4 lengths in 1:15.80. The 77 Beyer Speed Figure she earned that day is 10 points higher than her nearest competitor in Thursday's race, and with Beyers of 77, 74 and 72 in her past three starts, she is a "triple-figure" horse; no other horse in the race has recorded a Beyer higher than 70 in 2009.

Miss Fast Dancer, a 5-year-old trained by Blaine Wright and ridden by Gallyn Mitchell, drew post 2 in the eight-horse field. With speed to spare, she figures to take a commanding position along the rail on a surface that has been kind to front-runners for most of the meeting. Miss Fast Dancer has won 6 of 16 starts at Emerald Downs, and she's been first or second in each of her four starts this summer.

Ax Me a Question, a three-time winner at the meeting, has the tactical speed to threaten Miss Fast Dancer in the early going. Claimed for $7,500 on May 29, Ax Me a Question finished second for $12,500 in her next start, and then scored a front-running victory for $10,000 two weeks ago. She has thrived at Emerald Downs, winning 4 of 7 starts. Trainer Vince Gibson has named Matt Hagerty to ride.

Carrie's Choice could be a factor if trainer Carlos Moreno has her ready after a four-month layoff. She won two races last summer, including a $40,000 optional claimer in her first start following a long layoff. She was stakes-placed at Emerald in 2007, finishing third in the John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and at Portland Meadows last November, when she was second in the Diane Kem Handicap. Jose Contreras, who joined the jockey colony last week, has the call.

Other contenders include Janjen, who was third behind Miss Fast Dancer in her last start; Libby Creek, who won a $20,000 claimer at Thursday's distance last summer; and Shansey, who finished last for $25,000 in her 2009 debut a month ago. Outsiders Free as Can Be and Colors of a Starr complete the field.