07/24/2013 5:00PM

Emerald Downs: He's Not Bluffin gets class relief


AUBURN, Wash. – He’s Not Bluffin headlines an evenly matched field of eight 3-year-olds Friday in the featured sixth race at Emerald Downs. First post for the seven-race program is 6:45 p.m. Pacific.

After chasing stakes runners in his past two starts, He’s Not Bluffin is a candidate to profit from class relief Friday while facing $20,000 claimers over 6 1/2 furlongs. Trained by Jim Penney for owners Ron and Rosalie Warren, He’s Not Bluffin made short work of $30,000 maiden claimers May 11 in his only previous start for a claiming tag.

Following that snappy maiden victory, Penney pushed He’s Not Bluffin directly into the deep end of the talent pool for his first try against winners, starting him in the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Handicap on June 2, and He’s Not Bluffin easily outran his odds of 38-1 by rallying to finish fourth, just two lengths behind the winner, Finallygotabentley. A repeat of that effort Friday would be hard to deny, though He’s Not Bluffin and jockey Eliska Kubinova will have to track down a handful of speed merchants in a race that figures to unfold at a very fast pace.

The two inside horses, Star of the Dia and Scat Daddybaby, are among those likely to make a play for the lead. Star of the Dia and jockey Isaias Enriquez have teamed up for a victory and three runner-up finishes at the meeting and missed by just a neck in a first-level allowance race in early June. But Star of the Dia broke poorly in his last start, and a similar tardy break from the rail Friday could be hard to overcome, particularly with Scat Daddybaby to his immediate right.

Scat Daddybaby set a blistering pace in his most recent outing, building a four-length lead through a half-mile in 44.12 seconds before yielding to a winning stablemate. Scat Daddybaby has since changed barns, as owners Mike and Amy Feuerborn transferred the last of their horses with Penney to veteran trainer Robbie Baze. But Scat Daddybaby does retain the riding services of Juan Gutierrez, who remains locked in a spirited competition with Enriquez for the Emerald riding title. Enriquez began the three-day race week with a 64-62 edge over Gutierrez in the standings.

Others in the field are Songandabullet, who won a $25,000 maiden claimer in his last start; My Boy Butch, who captured a $40,000 starter allowance at Golden Gate over the winter; Southern Solution, who was claimed out of his last start for $15,000; Risky Road, an impressive winner in a $12,500 claimer at one mile in his most recent outing; and likely longshot Master’s Bluff, who won the restricted Slewdledo Stakes last July in his second start.