06/13/2001 11:00PM

Ceetoit vs. Sidekick: Speed duel

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AUBURN, Wash. - Ceetoit and Sidekick should stage a memorable battle in Friday's one-mile feature at Emerald Downs, a $16,000 to $14,000 claiming race with a compact field of five.

Both the 6-year-old Ceetoit and the 4-year-old Sidekick are racing in sharp form, and both have thoroughly established their liking for the Emerald Downs surface and the mile distance. Most significantly, both have a decided preference for racing on the lead, and neither is likely to concede the role of pacesetter to the other.

As if to insure that there will be a contested pace, Ceetoit will be ridden by second-leading rider Gallyn Mitchell and Sidekick will have leading jockey Ben Russell in the saddle. Both riders are scheduled to weigh in at 119 pounds. Neither jockey is anxious to concede wins to the other; in Friday's race, allowing either horse an easy lead would be tantamount to doing just that.

If the pace gets too hot, the door could swing open for the other three entrants, all of whom come from off the pace. Like the two front-runners, the three closers are racing in sharp form. Eye Spy enters Friday's headliner off a 2 1/2-length victory over restricted $12,500 company at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 26, Military Stormer finished a close third in the same race, which was his seasonal debut, and Micro Nation is coming off a fast-finishing third against open $10,000 company at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 18. All three horses have done their best running in routes, and any of the three appear capable of picking up the pieces if Ceetoit and Sidekick duel themselves into exhaustion.