08/17/2006 11:00PM

Catch 'Texan' if you can

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AUBURN, Wash. - Flamethrowintexan will have 11 pursuers in Sunday's 71st running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

Flamethrowintexan, who will go to post as the 120-pound highweight under regular rider Ricky Frazier, has had the early lead in all but two of his 22 outings and in all but one of his 13 wins. He came from second in his other two starts, a second in his career debut and a resounding 8 1/2-length victory in the 2004 British Columbia Derby. Flamethrowintexan, a 5-year-old who races for Paul Heist's Grasshopper Stable, is coming off a sharp 4 1/2-length win in the nine-furlong Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap here on July 30. Kay Cooper, assistant to trainer Jim Penney, said he has continued to thrive since his Mile prep.

"He is on top of his game right now," Cooper said. "We couldn't be happier with the way he is coming into the race."

Two horses have the speed to pressure Flamethrowintexan early, though it is doubtful that either will attempt to do so. Quiet Cash has run his best races, including a second to No Giveaway in last year's Longacres Mile, from just off the pace. And Starbird Road, who is a model of versatility, is likely to avoid a grueling pace duel in what will be his first try beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

Flamethrowintexan's chances were further enhanced when California shippers Southern Africa and Papi Chullo drew posts 10 and 11, respectively. Southern Africa, the second highweight at 119 pounds with Russell Baze riding, finished just behind Papi Chullo in last month's Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, but was moved up to third when Papi Chullo was disqualified from third and placed seventh for interference in the stretch.

Papi Chullo, who will be ridden by Robby Albarado at 115 pounds, was beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by Giacomo in the San Diego. In his previous outing, he defeated a field of $62,500 optional claimers by five widening lengths after 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.40, good for a Beyer of 108.

Both Southern Africa, trained by Renton native Mike Puhich, and Papi Chullo, trained by J. Buenaventura Vargas, are stalkers who will be hard pressed to save ground on the first turn. They have two of the nation's most accomplished riders in Baze and Albarado, however, so it might prove rash to discount their chances.

Distaff: A Classic Life needs clean break

A Classic Life will be trying not to make the same mistake twice when she takes on seven rivals in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff at a mile.

A Classic Life, who will be shooting for her eighth win from 10 career starts at Emerald Downs, was favored at 7-10 in last month's Boeing Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. She broke eight to 10 lengths behind her field, however, and could only salvage a fourth-place finish, 9 1/4 lengths behind Dinner at Arlene's.

"She tried to anticipate the break, and when the gate didn't open the handler had to grab her head," trainer Grant Forster said. "Then the gate opened, and she was left. It was kind of a fluky thing, and I'm not really worried about it happening again. She has gotten away just fine in 14 of her 15 starts, so the chances are that she will get away fine on Sunday."

Just to make sure, Forster said he schooled A Classic Life in the gate twice after her mishap in the Boeing. Regular rider Ricky Frazier again has the mount at 120 pounds.

Dinner at Arlene's led throughout to notch her first stakes win in the Boeing, and she seems likely to employ the same front-running tactics on Sunday. Dinner at Arlene's, a 4-year-old daughter of Forestry trained by Doris Harwood, has won 4 of 9 career outings, including 3 of 6 starts this year. Ben Russell will ride at 116 pounds.

Queenledo, last year's 3-year-old filly champion at Emerald, will be looking for her first win of the year in the Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff. She has run second in her last three starts, all stakes, and needs only modest improvement to score. Sandi Gann will ride for trainer Tim McCanna.

Also a threat is Bardy Woman, who will be making her first start at Emerald after being claimed for $62,500 by owner Tom Tollen at Del Mar on Aug. 2. Bardy Woman, a 5-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat, ran second that day after a mile in 1:38. She has won 4 of 20 career outings, including 4 of 8 starts on dirt, and has impressed trainer Bill Tollett since arriving at Emerald.

"She is a very classy individual, and she has worked well over our track," Tollett said. "I think she will be very tough on Sunday."