06/30/2005 12:00AM

Contenders aplenty in mile claimer


AUBURN, Wash. - An evenly matched field of 10 older horses, each eligible to be claimed for $25,000 to $22,500, will test the skills of handicappers in Saturday's one-mile feature at Emerald Downs.

Favoritism is up for grabs, but Best Game in Town seems the most likely candidate - if bettors can forgive his last outing against $25,000 optional claimers at a mile on June 11. Best Game in Town, a 4-year-old from the barn of Bonnie Jennie, was bumped hard at the start and raced wide around both turns en route to a ninth-place finish that day.

In his previous start, under the same conditions on May 21, Best Game in Town lost by only a neck to America West in 1:36.20, though he was disqualified and placed third for interference in the stretch.

Bartus Christian also looks dangerous after scoring an easy win against $15,000 claimers at six furlongs on June 5, then running a solid third with $25,000 optional claimers at 6 1/2 furlongs last time out on June 18. Bartus Christian, a 4-year-old trained by Frank Lucarelli, had two thirds and a second in three one-mile starts last year, all in allowance company.

Jazzinarounnightly is another that could win with a return to the form he had last year, when he won the one-mile Trooper Seven Stakes by more than five lengths. Jazzinarounnightly, trained by Connie Bouslaugh, has yet to show his best stuff in three starts against older horses, however, and he must also overcome the outside post on Saturday.