06/21/2005 12:00AM

Callie Mae has edge in class


AUBURN, Wash. - Callie Mae and Cortina head a field of nine fillies and mares in Thursday's feature at Emerald Downs, a $3,500 starter handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Callie Mae figures as a prime contender off her record of 10 wins from 44 starts against mostly tougher company. Callie Mae, a 6-year-old trained by James Sayler, defeated $8,000 rivals going 1 1/16 miles here last season. She has three fourth-place finishes from as many starts at the meet, having faced $12,500, $10,000, and $7,500 foes.

Thursday's feature appears to be the softest assignment Callie Mae has been given in over a year, and she should appreciate the class relief.

Cortina will carry 121 pounds, one more than Callie Mae, on the strength of her sharp form. Cortina, a 5-year-old daughter of Swiss Yodeler, won a mile test for $3,500 claimers for trainer Joe Toye on May 15, when she was claimed away by trainer Bill Tollet. She ran a pair of seconds at the $5,000 level for Tollett, but Toye reached in and claimed her back out of her most recent race on June 18.

Toye, who is enjoying a banner meeting with 9 wins from 40 starters, will wheel Cortina back in just five days while putting her in a spot from which she cannot be claimed.

* A drawing will be held that matches selected entrants with the horses in the feature. The fan represented by the winning horse will receive $250.