08/29/2007 12:00AM

Distance cut benefits Red Lollipop


AUBURN, Wash. - An evenly matched field of eight 3-year-old fillies, each eligible to be claimed for $17,500, clash in Friday's six-furlong feature at Emerald Downs.

The race originally was written at a mile, but was shortened to six furlongs after it failed to draw a sufficient number of entries. The change elevated the chances of Red Lollipop, who led throughout to graduate on the maiden $22,500 level July 15, when she last tried six furlongs. Red Lollipop came back in a mile race for $17,500 claimers on Aug. 11 and tired, finishing seventh after contesting the pace through six furlongs. She was claimed by trainer Ben Root and Remmah Racing Inc. that day, and Root wastes no time in returning her to what appears to be her preferred distance.

The distance change probably works against Northwest Wine, who closed strongly to get second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the same Aug. 11 race in which Red Lollipop ran seventh.

Northwest Wine, from the barn of trainer Frank Lucarelli, hasn't been as sharp when sprinting this year, though she graduated against $20,000 maidens at 5 1/2 furlongs last season at 2. She will be ridden by Juan Gutierrez, who has been red hot.

Another notable jockey assignment is leading rider Ricky Frazier on Follow Your Shot. Frazier rode three others in Thursday's field in their most recent start - Careless Heart, Red Lollipop and Eddie's Favorite.