07/06/2012 4:17PM

Emerald Downs: Class Included the major player in Boeing Handicap

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AUBURN, Wash. -- Class Included, never worse than second in 12 career starts, looms a strong favorite Sunday at Emerald Downs in the $50,000 Boeing Handicap for fillies and mares. The one-mile Boeing is the ninth of 10 races on one of the most intriguing cards of the meeting. First post time is 2 p.m. Pacific.

The wagering favorite in each of her past eight starts, Class Included is coming of a narrow loss in the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators’ Handicap on June 10. Try as she might, she couldn’t catch front-running winner E Z Kitty, who sprinted to an uncontested lead, set a blistering pace and held on gamely. But E Z Kitty was both good and fortunate that day, taking full advantage of a powerful speed bias, and also benefitting when her expected pace rival, Elusive Noise, broke slowly.

E Z Kitty and Class Included could hook up again in the late going Sunday. E Z Kitty is undefeated in two starts at route distances for trainer Robert Gibson. Class Included captured a rare stakes double in 2011, winning the Washington Oaks at Emerald, and then the BC Oaks at Hastings, both at nine furlongs.

Juan Gutierrez, Emerald’s leading rider, has the mount on Class Included for trainer Jim Penney. Leonel Camacho-Flores, who recorded his second Emerald Downs stakes victory in the Washington State Legislators’, has a return engagement aboard E Z Kitty.

It’s more than a two-horse race. Elusive Noise held off Class Included in a one-mile stakes race last June, and Sweet Nellie Brown, Carrabelle Harbor, and Rewritten all have recorded stakes wins around two turns. Cielator, undefeated in two starts for high-percentage trainer Junior Coffey, rounds out the field.

Sunday’s card also includes a six-furlong allowance that attracted a handful of candidates for the $200,000 Longacres Mile. With Emerald Downs’s Grade 3 showcase just six weeks away, and with Noosa Beach injured and out of the picture for now, the local handicap division has been thrown wide open, and the winner Sunday could stamp himself as a legitimate Mile contender.

Rainier Ice, a close second in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in his last start, and ultra-fast sprinter Hollywood Harbor are likely to dominate the betting. Posse Power, who finished third in the Longacres Mile last year, will be making his first start since December and would have to be at his absolute best to collar the favorites. Hayjax, Couldabenthewhisky, and Our Eagle Boy complete the six-horse field.