09/08/2004 12:00AM

Duke of Kent fresh for try at a mile


AUBURN, Wash. - Two of the sharpest horses on the grounds, Duke of Kent and Suspicious Minds, square off in the best race at Emerald Downs on Friday, for $16,000 claimers going a mile.

Duke of Kent has five wins and a second from six starts at the meeting and is coming off a star turn in the Harley Hoppe and Associates Marathon Series. Duke of Kent, a 4-year-old son of Afternoon Deelites, won the 1 1/8-mile leg of the series, then finished second to Big Bad Bue in the 1 1/4-mile leg before turning the tables on that rival in the 1 1/2-mile finale on Aug. 15. Trainer Frank Lucarelli hasn't worked Duke of Kent since his last race in an attempt to freshen him up, but he figures to have retained ample fitness for a representative showing at a mile.

Suspicious Minds has won three of his five starts at the meeting, including his last two. Suspicious Minds, a 7-year-old son of Paranoide, was claimed for $12,500 out of his last start at the Golden Gate meet in April by trainer Junior Coffey for the partnership of Dave Reising and Duane Weber. All three of his wins for his new connections have come at the $16,000 level, including a 1 3/4-length victory over the pacesetting Irish Tribute in a one-mile test here on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 22.

Irish Tribute may be able to turn the tables on Suspicious Minds on Friday. Irish Tribute, trained by Jim Penney, was trying a mile for the first time on Mile Day, and he was bucking a track bias that favored closers.