05/25/2006 11:00PM

'Debbie' back from year layoff

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AUBURN, Wash. - Debbie's Assault will make her return to the races in Sunday's Emerald Downs feature, an optional $25,000 claiming race for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Debbie's Assault, a 4-year-old daughter of Belong to Me, raced just twice as a juvenile and twice again last year at 3, but she demonstrated exceptional talent in both campaigns. She lost her jockey at the start in her debut at 2, then came back to graduate with a sharp win over maiden special weight company. Last year she ran second to local 3-year-old filly champ Queenledo in the six-furlong U.S. Bank Stakes and third to the same rival in the Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs before going back to the sidelines in May.

Though she has been off a full year, Debbie's Assault has been training exceptionally well and could be ready for a top effort. She has little speed, however, and may be disadvantaged by an apparent lack of pace in the feature. Debbie's Assault will be coupled in the wagering with Dinner at Arlene's, who does have speed, but it is by no means certain that Dinner at Arlene's will be asked to ensure an honest pace for her entrymate. Though both fillies are owned by Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms, Debbie's Assault is trained by Bob McMeans and Dinner at Arlene's by Doris Harwood.

The other possible pacesetter in the field of eight is America's Girl, who won her seasonal debut over $20,000 optional claimers from slightly off the pace on April 30.