09/12/2013 4:38PM

Emerald Downs: Big Bad Brown seeks fourth straight win Saturday

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AUBURN, Wash. – Big Bad Brown, a leading contender for claimer of the meeting honors, will shoot for his fourth consecutive victory Saturday in the featured race at Emerald Downs. First post for the eight-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

Big Bad Brown will face six challengers in a $10,000 claimer at one mile, and the 5-year-old Tribunal gelding has won under similar conditions in each of his past two starts. He rallied from last place Aug. 11 to collar the pacesetters and win by two lengths. Three weeks later, he attended a slow pace before kicking clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Big Bad Brown was claimed for $10,000 out of the latter race and will make his first start Saturday for trainer Howard Belvoir.

Like Big Bad Brown, several others in the field have changed barns in recent weeks. In fact, five of the seven entrants will be saddled by different trainers than the ones they began July with.

Touch the Sun and Surfliner were claimed in late July, and Reinvent was claimed in August. Rezar, who could set the pace Saturday, was transferred to trainer Chris Stenslie about a month ago. Only Double Shuffle and Tobiah’s Journey, both trained by Joe Toye, have been with their current trainer for more than two months, and Toye has had Double Shuffle for all of two starts.

All of this shuffling adds to the challenges facing handicappers in a wide-open race. Touch the Sun, who finished fourth in the Portland Mile at Portland Meadows in his last start, could start as the favorite, with Big Bad Brown and Rezar also likely to be heavily bet. If all goes according to recent form, Touch the Sun and Rezar will dictate the pace, with Big Bad Brown and others in the second flight.

Stryker Phd gets 96 Beyer

Stryker Phd earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96 for his victory last Sunday in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for older statebreds. It was the third successive Beyer of 96 or higher for Stryker Phd, who stamped himself as the leading contender for horse of the meeting honors. Only two stakes races remain on Emerald’s calendar, both for 2-year-olds on closing day, Sept. 29.

Also on Washington Cup Day, E Z Kitty earned a 92 Beyer for her victory over fillies and mares in the Pegasus Training Center Stakes, in which she ran a mile in 1:34.44. And Chu and You, undefeated in four starts, earned a 62 for her front-running win in the Northwest Farms Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.