08/23/2005 12:00AM

'Dragonlady' drops into softer spot


AUBURN, Wash. - An evenly matched field of seven 2-year-olds, including three fillies, will square off at 5 1/2 furlongs in Thursday's best race at Emerald Downs.

All entrants will be eligible to be claimed for $18,000 to $20,000, and the claiming price points out one of the fillies, Danny's Dragonlady, as the probable favorite. Danny's Dragonlady, a daughter of Free at Last from the barn of trainer Doris Harwood, won her debut here

July 16 against $30,000 maidens. She tried allowance company in her next and most recent outing on Aug. 13, but endured a rough trip from the rail post and tired to finish fifth behind The Case Queen, who is regarded as the best juvenile

filly on the grounds. Danny's Dragonlady will be meeting considerably softer company Thursday.

Another who seems sure to be well backed is Lovers Cascadian, who registered the top Beyer in the field, a 57, when he won his debut here going 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.40 seconds on July 16. Lovers Cascadian, a Cascadian gelding trained by Ben Root, was racing for a $12,500 tag that day, but he won by nearly four lengths and returned to register a solid five-furlong drill in 1:00.60 a week ago.

The X-factor in Thursday's field is Bound to Be Free, who makes his local debut after winning his initial outing at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula. Bound to Be Free, a B.C.-bred son of Free at Last, won the $4,000 Garden City Futurity on Aug. 12 by a resounding 7 1/2 lengths, but he had only two opponents and required 1:07.40 to get the unusual 5 1/4-furlong distance.