07/23/2009 11:00PM

Elusive Horizon looks long gone in Boeing

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AUBURN, Wash. - Elusive Horizon and Gadget Queen, the first two finishers in the King County Handicap on July 4, meet again Sunday at Emerald Downs in the $50,000 Boeing Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile test for older fillies and mares. But nothing is static in racing, and a couple of newcomers from Canada, Holy Nova in particular, could complicate matters for the locals.

Elusive Horizon figures to be the favorite. She's undefeated in three starts around two turns and won the one-mile King County as she pleased, darting to the lead under regular rider Juan Gutierrez and coasting through fast fractions, including a 45.40 half-mile, before pulling away in the stretch. It was the perfect setup - she was the only committed front-runner - and she figures to dictate the pace again Sunday. Gadget Queen, Holy Nova and the rest will have to catch her to collect the $27,500 winner's share.

"I think my filly is going to be pretty darn tough," trainer Doris Harwood said Thursday, after Elusive Horizon worked an easy four furlongs in her final tune-up. "It looks like we'll be the speed, and that's right up her alley."

In the absence of Clair Annette, who won two sprint stakes early in the meeting before going to the sidelines, there are few worthy pace challengers to Elusive Horizon in the filly-and-mare division. Enumclaw Girl failed to show her usual speed in the King County, though that was her first race following a layoff and she should be more prominent Sunday. Blue Sky Holiday, one of three Hastings shippers in the eight-horse field, also could push the favorite early.

Gadget Queen benefitted from a fast pace when she won the 6 1/2-furlong Washington Legislators Handicap in early June, but couldn't catch Elusive Horizon as the 3-5 favorite in the King County. With Emerald's leading rider, Ricky Frazier, up for trainer Blaine Wright, she won't need much help to be a factor Sunday.

Holy Nova won the 1 1/16-mile Vancouver Sun Handicap at Hastings three weeks ago in her first 2009 start. She has 12 victories in 23 starts, winning at Aqueduct, Belmont and Monmouth during her 3-year-old season in 2007. Mario Gutierrez will travel from Vancouver to ride Holy Nova for trainer Troy Taylor.

"She wins about every time she runs," Taylor said. "She's doing good right now. She can go to the front or come from behind. She prefers to lay off the pace a bit, though she was farther back last time than we wanted her. It looks like a tough race down there."