07/02/2013 5:06PM

Emerald Downs: Beautranda must overcome sprint distance

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AUBURN, Wash. – A pair of first-level allowance sprints for 3-year-olds will serve as co-featured races Thursday at Emerald Downs. The 10-race holiday card begins at 2 p.m. Pacific. Emerald Downs will then be dark on Friday before resuming its regular schedule with matinee cards Saturday and Sunday.
In Thursday’s eighth race, Beautranda, a maiden winner at Golden Gate in April, headlines a field of five fillies racing six furlongs for a purse of $18,900. It will be Beautranda’s first start on dirt after one start on Golden Gate’s Tapeta and two starts on grass. The late-running Beautranda will break from post 3 with jockey Isaias Enriquez. Likely pacesetter Strange Luck will start from post 4.

Trained by Blaine Wright, Beautranda is a homebred for Ernest Sherman of Seattle. Sherman campaigned her dam, Beaulena, a stakes winner at Turf Paradise in 2006 and Emerald Downs in 2007. Beaulena was best around two turns, and Beautranda might be similarly inclined. But Beautranda looked sharp in her maiden victory at six furlongs, rallying from midpack to nail tiring speed horses, and she has been working steadily since arriving at Emerald Downs last month.

Others in the eighth race include Mo’s Teresa, a late-running sprinter who boasts five wins from 13 career starts; the rapidly improving Inquiry Miss; and She’sontopyodeling, who has won two in a row but is making the daunting class jump from $7,500 claimers to allowance company.

The ninth race attracted a formidable field of six colts and geldings. Mike Man’s Gold, a stakes winner as a 2-year-old in 2012, is likely to be one of the longest shots on the board as bettors zero in on Ankeny Hill, a speedy Sharp Humor colt who was favored against older horses in his last start June 2, and recent allowance winner Country Rules.

Ankeny Hill couldn’t keep pace with the very speedy Camp Granada in his first attempt against winners, but could have an easier time getting to the front Saturday. Trained by Chris Stenslie, he’ll break from the inside post position with jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores. Another eager speed horse, Whistle Cat, will break from post 5. Star of the Dia also is quick from the blocks, and a hot pace is likely.

If the 6 1/2-furlong race sets up for a closer, and Country Rules could be the one. The Dan Markle trainee was victorious under similar conditions June 9, overtaking Star of the Dia following a prolonged speed duel while covering the distance in 1:15.59. He’ll again have the services of rider David Lopez, who has started to heat up following a quiet launch to his first season at Emerald Downs.