09/06/2001 11:00PM

Diglett back for chance in derby


AUBURN, Wash. - There will be a distinctly international flavor to this Sunday's $125,000 Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby, as three of the eight entrants have shipped down from Canada to contest the 1 1/8-mile event.

Hastings Park stakes winners Diglett and I'm Free are joined by budding star Thurston, who made his last start at Edmonton's Northlands Park.

Diglett is well known to local fans, having run second in last season's WTBA Lads Stakes, third in this year's Tacoma Handicap, and first in the recent Washington Owners' Breeders' Cup Handicap at Emerald. In his recent score, the Alnaab gelding annihilated the local competition with a 6 1/4-length victory in 1:41.60 for 1 1/16 miles.

I'm Free is the divisional leader at Hastings, having won five stakes this year in Vancouver, including wins in his last four starts. A son of Free at Last, he will be making his first start outside the cozy confines of Hastings Park.

Thurston, son of Turbulent Kris, is also based at Hastings, where he defeated maiden special weight and allowance company at 1 1/16 miles earlier this summer, then ran third to I'm Free in the British Columbia Cup Handicap at the same distance. He then shipped to Northlands, where he ran third to Alberta sensation Fancy As in the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby.

Heading the local forces are Jumron Won, a winner of three stakes at the current Emerald meeting; Jade Green, hero of the Tacoma Handicap; and Poker Brad, who ran second to Diglett in the Washington Owners'.