07/19/2011 3:07PM

Emerald Downs: Immigration stretches out in bid to end 25-race losing streak


AUBURN, Wash. – Immigration, closing in on $200,000 in career earnings but in the midst of a long losing streak, will be a leading contender if he starts as scheduled Thursday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. First post time is 6 p.m. Pacific, and the feature, a $12,500 claimer at one mile, is the seventh of eight races.

Immigration seldom runs a bad race, but the winner’s circle has been elusive for the hard-trying 7-year-old gelding. Since winning 4 of his 5 starts as a 2-year-old in 2006, he has lapsed into a 1-for-43 funk and lost his past 25 starts. Maybe he’s averse to winning, but Immigration isn’t averse to cashing checks – he has finished second nine times since posting his last victory in April 2009. Overall, he has won 5 of 48 starts for trainer Howard Belvoir, who owns the horse in partnership with Harley Hoppe, and earned $186,682, almost all of it at Emerald Downs.

In four starts at the current meeting, Immigration has delivered predictable results – two seconds, a third, and a fourth. He’ll move outside of his comfort zone Thursday, racing around two turns for the first time in more than four years. In his most recent route attempt, on July 1, 2007, he set the pace in the one-mile Tacoma Handicap before giving way to finish fifth, four lengths behind the winner.

Immigration will break from post 2 in an eight-horse field. He’ll have the riding services of Leslie Mawing, who begins the week with a 65-59 lead over Joe Crispin in the Emerald jockey standings. Generally close to the pace in his sprint races, Immigration and Mawing figure to get involved early at Thursday’s distance, though they’ll have to deal with the likes of Who’s Your Next Ex, who set a fast pace in his last start and will break from the inside post, and Chaching Pete, a sprinter making his first start beyond six furlongs.

He’s Flying Home, who rallied in his last start to run down Who’s Your Next Ex in the final yards, could start as the favorite. He has three career victories – all at route distances – and the tactical speed to benefit if the front-runners go too fast early. He’ll be ridden by Crispin for Tim McCanna, who trails Belvoir 30-26 in the Emerald trainer standings.

Others in the field are Whitney Bridge, making his second start following a 10-month layoff; late-runners Yasou and Overtime Victory, and longshot Snow On the River.