09/11/2001 11:00PM

Emerald begins home stretch with juveniles


AUBURN, Wash. - Two-year-olds will again be in the spotlight on Thursday, when Emerald Downs launches into five straight days of racing that will bring its 91-day meeting to a conclusion.

Three 2-year-old races, including the six-furlong feature for $16,000 fillies who have never won twice, will grace Thursday's nine-race card. That will bring the total for the meeting to 115, easily the most ever offered at Emerald Downs.

"Our 2-year-old program has been one of the real bright spots of the 2001 season," noted director of racing Grant Holcomb.

Thursday's headliner, which will go as the seventh race, has drawn a field of seven fillies. Easy Lady, a speedy daughter of Mr. Easy Money who races for D. H. Walker and Ron Hersh, seems likely to be favored off a good second place effort in a similar affair at 5 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 16. Trained by Len Kasmerski, she led inside the furlong marker that day, but tired late to be beaten three lengths by Ann August in 1:05.20.

Recent maiden winner Lammy and Peters Punkin, who was unplaced in the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at a mile on Sept. 2, are expected to provide the sternest opposition to the likely favorite.

The local 2-year-old program will reach its climax on Saturday with the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles. Sunday will be Fan Appreciation Day, with $1 specials on preferred parking, admission, programs, reserved seating and numerous food and beverage items, plus a 20 percent discount on all items in the gift shop. Monday will be Getaway Day, with the $60,000 Washington Championship topping a card that gets under way with a special first post time of 5:00