09/12/2006 11:00PM

'Cowboy' may cruise on easy lead

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AUBURN, Wash. - Cowboy Cruisser will be the one to catch in Friday's featured race at Emerald Downs, a $15,000 starter handicap at 1 1/8 miles that has drawn a field of five older runners.

Cowboy Cruisser is a need-the-lead type, and he will get what he needs on Friday. The 4-year-old Cowboy Cruisser will line up against four deep closers and should be able to dictate fractions that are very much to his liking. That was the case two races back, when Cowboy Cruisser met $25,000 optional claimers at a mile and went all alone through fractions of 24, 47.80, and 1:11.80. He slammed the door on the closers in the field by sprinting the last quarter in 24.20 for a final clocking of 1:36.

Cowboy Cruisser took on $40,000 optional claimers at a mile when last seen on Aug. 20, but he dueled through much faster fractions and tired badly to finish sixth. It is hard to see who could possibly hook Cowboy Cruisser on Friday, when he will be ridden by his regular jockey, Juan Gutierrez, at 122 pounds.

With a different pace scenario, Don'twritemeoff would probably be the one to beat. Don'twritemeoff, a 4-year-old son of Silver Ghost from the barn of trainer Pat Mullens, has risen from the $10,000 maiden claiming ranks to stakes since he began to employ late-running tactics in May. He ran second to Flamethrowintexan in the $100,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup on July 30 before finishing 10th in the Aug. 20 Longacres Mile.