06/22/2012 5:19PM

Emerald Downs: City Twister wants fast pace to chase in Coca-Cola Handicap

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AUBURN, Wash. – Makors Finale and D’honorable One, who reached the finish line together June 3 in the Auburn Handicap – the second dead heat for the win in Emerald Downs stakes history – will duke it out again Sunday in the one-mile, $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

The sixth race on a 10-race program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific, the Coca-Cola shares top billing with the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Exclusive Diva, a romping stakes winner in her last start, figures to be a short-priced favorite in the Irish Day, but the outlook in the Coca-Cola is more muddled. In addition to the pair who tied in the Auburn, a strong case could be made for recent maiden winner Edge Forward and also City Twister, who finished fourth after a troubled trip behind Makors Finale and D’honorable One.

“We’ve been prepping him for these longer races,” trainer Dan Markle said of City Twister, who ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.85 in his season debut April 21 before getting bounced around in the Auburn. “Hopefully, it looks like the half-mile will be pretty quick, so if he’ll take back and run the last part, he should be a factor. There’s a couple of speeders in there that will want to ensure there’s a genuine pace. So we’ll sit back and wait and run the last half-mile faster than they run the first half. That’s our plan.”

City Twister and jockey Debbie Hoonan were loping along down the backstretch in the Auburn before running into trouble just as the colt was ready to launch a bid.

“He tried to drop in on the turn, and this other horse rammed into him around the three-eighths, rammed into him sideways, and that sort of stunned him,” Markle said. “That hurt his chances some. I was expecting a lot better effort.”

City Twister, after regaining his bearings, finished gamely to just miss the show.

“He’s a really nice colt, and he’s been preparing for this real decently,” Markle said. “I just hope they go too fast the first half-mile, and it puts us in the picture.”

Markle said D’honorable One, trained by Blaine Wright, is the horse to beat. D’honorable One has won 4 of his 6 starts. This will be his first try around two turns.

“We’re going to have to catch Blaine’s horse again,” Markle said. “He’s almost undefeated around here, and I think he’ll be leading the way.”