09/09/2008 12:00AM

'Blackjack' has speed, back class


AUBURN, Wash. - Blackjack Ketchum will attempt to recapture his early season form when he takes on seven rivals in Thursday's feature at Emerald Downs, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for nonwinners of three races eligible to be claimed for $7,500.

Blackjack Ketchum, a 3-year-old from the barn of leading trainer Tim McCanna, began this meeting with a bang when he defeated $30,000 rivals on May 3 with six furlongs in 1:10. He went to the sidelines for more than two months after that race, and he has managed only a third and a pair of fourths from three subsequent starts.

Blackjack Ketchum will be dropping from the $12,500 level, however, and lands in a race with little apparent pace. Though he will be meeting older rivals for the first time, Blackjack Ketchum should be able to dictate the fractions under rider Ricky Frazier and stands a big chance to lead throughout.

Blackjack Ketchum might get his sternest challenge from Jamalouie, a Neil Knapp-trained 6-year-old who is coming off a sixth-place effort against open $5,000 claimers at 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 31. The move into restricted company represents an effective class drop for Jamalouie.

Also dangerous is Toll Charge, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Chris Stenslie. Toll Charge ran second under identical conditions on Aug. 3, then came back to finish second against $10,000 3-year-olds going a mile on Aug. 31.