08/02/2001 11:00PM

Edneator's back, but not favored


AUBURN, Wash. - Edneator, the horse of the meeting at Emerald Downs in 2000, will return to action on Sunday when he meets four rivals in the $60,000 Governor's Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Edneator won three races here last summer, including the Grade 3 Longacres Mile and the Washington Championship, en route to horse of the meeting honors. He then ventured to California for a three-race campaign that netted a win in Bay Meadows's Pacifica Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but he was eased in the Nov. 24 running of the Forty Niner Handicap at Golden Gate and was later found to have a virus. That illness accounts for Edneator's tardy return to the races, but trainer Jim Penney hopes there is still time to ready his 5-year-old for another assault on the Longacres Mile on Aug. 19.

Despite his accomplishments, Edneator may cede the favorite's role on Sunday to Handy N Bold, who was last year's champion sprinter at Emerald. Handy N Bold, who captured the six-furlong Seattle Handicap and the 6 1/2-furlong Fox Sports Northwest Handicap this year before running second to Mike K. in the 6 1/2-furlong Independence Day Handicap, will be shooting for his ninth stakes win at Emerald. That would tie him with Ropersandwranglers as the track's most prolific stakes winner.

Rounding out the field are April Surprise, Snohomish Loot, and Advantage, a Chilean import who will be making his first start in the U.S.

Rampaging Alf, who was to prep for the Longacres Mile in Sunday's Governor's, popped a quarter crack in a blowout on Thursday and had to be withdrawn.