07/11/2012 4:59PM

Emerald Downs: Gentleman's Red drops in class for Friday sprint

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AUBURN, Wash. – Gentleman’s Red profiles as the horse to beat Friday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The $7,500 claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies is the sixth race on a seven-race card that kicks off at 6 p.m. Pacific, and Gentleman’s Red, dropping in class following a third-place effort in an open $12,500 claimer, is likely to be the betting favorite in an eight-horse field.

Conditioned by Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney, Gentleman’s Red, a speedy roan by Yankee Gentleman, has been competitive in each of her four starts this year. In her best effort, she finished third after setting the pace in a first-level allowance April 21 in her season debut. She has moved steadily down the class ladder since then and may have found her winning level in Friday’s six-furlong sprint. She’ll have a new rider as Leonel Camacho-Flores steps in for Juan Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, in pursuit of his first Emerald Downs riding title – he enters the week with a 55-45 lead over defending champion Leslie Mawing – has opted to ride De la Luna for trainer Tom Wenzel. De la Luna took advantage of a prevailing speed bias to blitz statebred maiden claimers June 10 but faded to finish fourth, 10 lengths behind the winner, in a one-mile race in her first try against winners. Wenzel has been terrific with horses shortening from routes to sprints, winning with six of his past 13 starters.

De la Luna is likely to set the pace, though a couple of others in the field, including Gentleman’s Red, have demonstrated sharp early speed. The pace scenario could be further complicated by newcomer Footnotedisclosure, who will make her first start at Emerald following a lackluster campaign in Southern California. Owned by Karen and Mickey Taylor, of Seattle Slew fame, Footnotedisclosure worked a fast four furlongs last Thursday in her first drill at Emerald and could take kindly to her new surroundings. William Antongeorgi III will ride for trainer Larry Ross.

A pair of improving fillies, Bella Angelina and Severed Ties, also figure to have a fighting chance. They finished second and third, less than a length apart, in their most recent start, and Bella Angelina’s Beyer Speed Figure of 53 is the best last-race Beyer in the field.

Others in the lineup are Evelyn’s Danceband, who has finished in the top three in 5 of 7 starts for Emerald’s leading trainer, Frank Lucarelli; Opening Buzz, an impressive maiden winner in her most recent sprint; and Port Wakefield, who has failed to threaten in two starts since winning a $5,000 maiden claimer in her career bow in May.