05/23/2013 3:15PM

Emerald Downs: I Keep Saying must keep straight course


AUBURN, Wash. – I Keep Saying, disqualified from an impressive victory in his last start, will try to make amends Saturday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. A $25,000 claimer for older horses who have yet to win twice, the feature is the eighth of nine races on a program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

I Keep Saying, a homebred for Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney and his extended family, reached the wire first in his 2012 debut April 27, defeating Cariboo Road by a head after a prolonged stretch duel. But after a video review by the stewards, I Keep Saying was disqualified and placed second for lugging out and impeding Cariboo Road in the final yards.

I Keep Saying covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.81, less than a second off the track record, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 75. That kind of speed could put him at a distinct advantage Saturday in a short field of six. Breaking from the outside post under Isaias Enriquez, I Keep Saying should have an easy time getting to the front, and if he can repeat his most recent effort, he could have a relatively easy time staying there for the entire six furlongs. He’s likely to be a short-priced favorite.

If there’s an upset of I Keep Saying, Havanna Red and Brock Says are the most likely candidates to spring it. Havanna Red finished second in a pair of stakes races during his 2-year-old year in 2011 but made it to the starting gate just four times in 2012, finally winning for the first time in his eighth career start. Trainer Charles Essex has put Havanna Red through some quick works in advance of his season debut and Havanna Red will have the services of Emerald Downs’s leading rider, Juan Gutierrez.

Brock Says just missed in a $12,500 claimer in his last start, rallying strongly in a fast race to fall short by a head. He has never finished worse than second in three starts at Emerald Downs. With Enriquez jumping off to ride I Keep Saying, trainer Frank Lucarelli has named David Lopez to ride Brock Says.

Leadership, Fist Full of Green, and Sandys Diamond complete the field. Leadership has finished in the top three in 10 of 16 starts but has struggled to get over the top, winning just once with six seconds. Fist Full of Green was a distant third behind I Keep Saying on April 27 and then faded to finish last in a first-level optional claimer May 12. Sandys Diamond missed by a head in a $12,500 claimer in his last start.