05/18/2011 2:09PM

Emerald Downs: Carr Creek tries again after speed duel

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AUBURN, Wash. – Carr Creek, a hard-luck loser in his 2011 debut, and Rainier Ice, who won his final 2010 start impressively, headline the feature race Friday at Emerald Downs. Racing begins at 6 p.m. Pacific, and the main event, a $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds who’ve never won twice, is the seventh of eight races.

Trainer Tim McCanna had Carr Creek on edge for his first start of the year May 6. After breaking sharply, Carr Creek barreled headlong into a speed duel with Gdanz Xpress that covered the entire 5 1/2 furlongs and ended with Carr Creek a nose short at the wire. Carr Creek earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort, putting him on par with Rainier Ice, who recorded a 74 Beyer in his final start last summer, and Dre’s K, who got a 70 for his front-running effort in a $12,500 maiden claimer April 24.

Carr Creek will break from the inside post with a new jockey Friday. Joe Crispin, second in the standings with 19 wins through the first 12 days of the 82-day meeting, steps in for Tony Gutierrez as Carr Creek shoots for his second victory in six career starts for owner Lester Ellenz.

Carr Creek figures to attract a lot of support, but Rainier Ice is the likely favorite on the strength of his powerful performance in a $20,000 maiden claimer on the final day of the Emerald Downs meeting in September. Rainier Ice, who races for a partnership fronted by breeder Jerre Paxton, ran six furlongs in 1:09.20 to defeat next-out winner Praise a Native by nine lengths. Gallyn Mitchell has the riding assignment for trainer Tom Wenzel.

While bettors will focus on the Carr Creek versus Rainier Ice storyline, it’s by no means a two-horse race. Dre’s K also has a quick turn of foot as evidenced April 24 when he toyed with lower-level maiden claimers before drawing off to win by six lengths. Another entrant, Rainier Missile, finished third in a $25,000 claiming sprint in his first try against winners and could have a say in the outcome. The wild card is McGuffin, who in his career debut May 7 rallied from the back of the pack to win a $7,500 maiden claimer by 6 1/4 lengths. With Carr Creek, Rainier Ice, and Dre’s K all eager to set a fast pace, McGuffin could make his presence felt in the final furlong.