09/12/2006 12:00AM

Coker Road need only repeat last


AUBURN, Wash. - Coker Road will be trying for two wins in a row on Thursday when he heads a field of six in the Emerald Downs feature, a mile race for older $10,000 claimers.

Coker Road, a 5-year-old trained by Dan Markle, won under identical conditions last out, on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 20. In that start, he stalked the pace through six furlongs in 10.80 seconds, then kicked on powerfully to win by nearly two lengths over Dr. Bluebird in 1:36.80. It was the second win from six starts at the meeting for Coker Road, who has not finished worse than third this year. Jockey Mick Ruis, coming off a nine-win week, again has the mount, at 122 pounds.

Coker Road will probably have to catch A Maximum Buzz, who is coming off a gate-to-wire win versus $7,500 claimers on Aug. 18, when he ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.20. A Maximum Buzz, from the barn of Robbie Baze, has won three races at the meeting, all front-running scores at route distances, and he is extremely tough to catch when he is allowed to set his own fractions. Sandi Gann will take over the mount from regular rider Kevin Radke, who is sidelined indefinitely with an injured wrist.

Given A Maximum Buzz's apparent need for the lead, Swiss Creek could play a big role in Thursday's race. Swiss Creek, trained by Carlton Robbins, will be stretching out to a mile for the first time in his 18th career start and seems capable of going to the front, if asked to do so. John Rochabrun rides.