05/22/2013 3:45PM

Emerald Downs: Go With Gusto, Wasserman may be hampered by sluggish pace

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AUBURN, Wash. – Go With Gusto, seeking his 11th local victory, and Wasserman, hero of the 2008 Longacres Mile, headline the feature race Friday at Emerald Downs. The seven-race twilight card begins at 6:45 p.m. Pacific and the feature, a $17,500 claimer for older horses at 6 1/2 furlongs, is race 6.

Trained by Roy Lumm, the late-running Go With Gusto drew the outside post position in a field of seven, but the way the race seems to set up, he will face a tall task while making his first start since August. The Emerald Downs racing surface has been kind to rail-skimming speed horses over the past three weeks, and Friday’s race came up light in the way of early speed. If the pace is as slow as expected, it could make life difficult for Go With Gusto, a New York-bred by Yonaguska who won four consecutive starts last summer at Emerald while climbing the claiming ladder from $10,000 to $25,000.

Eliska Kubinova has the riding assignment for Lumm, who was 0 for 22 at the current meeting through Sunday. Kubinova, a record-setting apprentice at Emerald Downs last year, also is off to a quiet start at the meeting, winning with 6 of her first 48 mounts. Kubinova finished third in the jockey standings last year with 76 victories, and rode three or more winners on a single card five times.

Go With Gusto is an 8-year-old, a relative youngster compared with Wasserman, who’s still trying hard at 11. Wasserman has earned a record $562,993 at Emerald Downs, where he has made all but 11 of his 76 career starts, but has lost some of his customary late kick over the past few years. Wasserman rallied to take a $17,500 claimer at one mile in August, his only win in his past 15 starts. His nearly inseparable partner, jockey Jennifer Whitaker, has the call again Friday for owner/trainer Howard Belvoir.

If the pace is indeed slow, another Belvoir-trained horse, Advancement, might be quick enough to take advantage. Advancement pressed a fast pace in a $15,000 claimer in his season debut last month and returned to work six furlongs last Friday. With Whitaker taking the call on Wasserman, David Lopez will ride Advancement for the first time. The lead could be theirs for the taking.

Others in the field are Ugottabcatty, Rezar, Our Eagle Boy, and Dare Me Devil. Our Eagle Boy, winner of a restricted stakes race at Emerald in 2011, will be handled by the current leading rider, Juan Gutierrez.