05/25/2013 3:46PM

Emerald Downs: Front-runners Dream Caller, Roarified hard to separate

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AUBURN, Wash. – A $10,000 claimer for fillies and mares will serve as the featured race Monday at Emerald Downs. First post for the nine-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

Front-runners Dream Caller and Roarified are likely to attract the most interest among the seven entrants in the six-furlong feature.

Dream Caller won three consecutive races at Emerald Downs last summer, each one faster than the last, and finished a good fourth in her 2013 debut after setting the pace in a fast $15,000 claimer. Trained by Chris Stenslie, Dream Caller will break from post 6 with jockey Juan Gutierrez, with Roarified next-door in post 5.

Dream Caller might be a step quicker than Roarified, but few horses are as dogged as Roarified, a 5-year-old mare with 9 victories in 13 lifetime starts. Stenslie, the leading trainer at Emerald Downs through the first month of the meeting, was responsible for seven of Roarified’s victories. Stenslie trained Roarified through her first three seasons before losing her via claim in her first start of 2013.

Michael Pollowitz and Jeffrey Wilson collared Roarified for $5,000 from that April 21 race and were quickly rewarded when Roarified raced to an easy victory for $10,000 in her next start. Now trained by Doris Harwood, Roarified will be ridden by Isaias Enriquez. With the two speedsters breaking side-by-side, the battle for pace supremacy could be fierce.

Dream Caller and Roarified aren’t the only ones with designs on the lead, however. High Caliber, a newcomer from Northern California who recently missed by a neck in a $12,500 claimer at Golden Gate Fields, is a committed front-runner. And White River, since making her 2-year-old debut in June 2011, has never been worse than second at the half-mile pole in nine subsequent starts.

If the pace gets overheated, a late runner such as Strategic Patience could benefit. Strategic Patience has finished first or second in 11 of her 23 starts at Emerald Downs for trainer Don Munger and took a pair of $12,500 claiming sprints last summer. In her first start of the current meeting, Strategic Patience pressed the pace to finish second, four lengths behind Roarified, on May 12.

Rounding out the lineup are Clemens Brook, the runner-up in a $7,500 claimer in her last start, and Bartab, whose best effort was a victory last year in a conditioned $7,500 claiming race at one mile.