07/15/2011 2:54PM

Emerald Downs: Class Included looks well set up


AUBURN, Wash. – Class Included and Rainier Ice are the horses to beat Sunday as Emerald Downs presents a stakes-race doubleheader for 3-year-olds. Class Included tops the Kent Handicap for fillies, while Rainier Ice headlines the Seattle Slew Handicap for colts and geldings. Both races are 1 1/16 miles and carry a $50,000 purse.

Class Included, narrowly beaten as the 3-5 favorite in the Irish Day Handicap at a mile in her last start, looms a short-priced favorite yet again. She closed gamely in the Irish Day but couldn’t get past Elusive Noise, a resolute front-runner who hung on after getting an uncontested lead.

There’s more speed in the Kent in the form of Carrabelle Harbor, who skipped the Irish Day in favor of an allowance sprint, which she won easily. Carrabelle Harbor finished second behind Class Included in the 6 1/2-furlong Seattle Handicap on May 29, and her presence Sunday, as a legitimate contender, but also as an irritant to Elusive Noise, could tilt the race toward a pace scenario that strongly favors Class Included. With Emerald Downs’ leading rider, Leslie Mawing, up, she will be poised to pounce when the leaders start to tire.

Others in the six-horse field are For You My Heart, who finished right with Class Included, a half-length behind Elusive Noise, in the Irish Day, and outsiders Playful Argument and Judging Mimi.

The outlook for the Seattle Slew is more muddled. A full field of 12 is scheduled to compete, and racing luck could play a role in the outcome. Five horses reached the wire in unison in the one-mile Pepsi Cola Handicap on June 26, and all five are expected to run Sunday.

Rainier Ice reached the wire first in the Pepsi Cola but was disqualified and placed fifth after he drifted in to start a chain-reaction bumping incident in the final yards. Rainer Ice, a well-bred son of Forestry, was making his first start around two turns and easily could improve upon it the second time around. But Rainier Ice and jockey Juan Gutierrez face a daunting trip from the No. 11 post position. It’s the same story for Winter Warlock, whose resume includes a 1-4-1 line in 7 stakes appearances. He will break from post 12.

Couldabenthewhisky, the leading 2-year-old at Emerald last year, returns in the Seattle Slew following a seven-week break for what trainer Bonnie Jenne said was a minor injury. Couldabenthewhisky is perfect in two route attempts, having won the WTBA Lads at one mile and the Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles during his triumphant 2-year-old campaign.

Other leading contenders: Zayda, a late-runner who was elevated to first after the bumping incident in the Pepsi Cola; Showme Yourfriends, 50-1 winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Handicap on May 30; and rapidly improving runners Come Away Home and Jebrica.

The horses most likely to want the lead drew outside post positions. Long shot Dugan Bill is in stall No. 8, with El Gran Bebe (9), Jebrica (10), Rainier Ice and Winter Warlock to his immediate right. The challenge for the rest of the field will be to find a comfortable tracking position and avoid getting shuffled back around the first turn. The action could be fast and furious on the backstretch and around the final turn.

Longshots Codys a Bobcat, Northern Indy, and Big Bad Brown complete the field.