07/17/2013 4:22PM

Emerald Downs: Maggie's Special due for a victory

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AUBURN, Wash. – While she hasn’t won a race in nearly a year, Maggie’s Special looms the horse to beat Friday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. A $20,000 claimer for older fillies and mares at one mile, it’s the centerpiece of a seven-race card beginning at 6:45 p.m. Pacific.

A homebred for her trainer, Allen Gideon, Maggie’s Special has been knocking on the door. In perhaps her best effort at the meeting, she finished second behind Royal Moses in a first-level allowance sprint in late April. Maggie’s Special was outrun in the Hastings Handicap in her next start, but returned to finish fourth, beaten less than two lengths, in a $32,000 claimer in late May. She was third again in her most recent outing, a $25,000 claimer at one mile, and could benefit from additional class relief in a field of six.

Much like his stable star, Gideon is overdue for a little luck. The veteran trainer is 0 for 23 at the meeting, but with nine top-three finishes. Maggie’s Special, who will break from the inside post position with jockey Eliska Kubinova, could be the one to get Gideon over the top. She does her best running from a length or two off the pace and figures to have a couple of speedy and inviting targets to set up her late charge. Those targets, Kind of Naughty and Stephanie Plum, are both stretching around two turns for the first time this year, and the pace should be brisk.

Kind of Naughty defeated Stephanie Plum by a nose in a $17,500 claimer June 22. They covered six furlongs in 1:09.26 after Kind of Naughty zipped through a half-mile in 44.90 seconds and five furlongs in 56.93. Kind of Naughty, breaking from post 2, is likely to grab the early lead, with Stephanie Plum in close pursuit.

Others in the field are Better to Be Lucky, a late-running sprinter who is jumping up in class in search of her third consecutive victory; Ronda Rocks, victorious in a slow $12,500 claimer in her last start; and likely longshot English Lace, who recorded her only victory in a $5,000 maiden claimer in early June.

Earlier Friday, in the first race, a group of maiden 2-year-old fillies will sprint five furlongs for a $17,850 purse. Victorys Legacy, a first-time starter trained by Tim McCanna, could start as the favorite. She’s by leading Northwest sire Harbor the Gold and is the first foal from the talented Game Plan mare Victory Script, who won seven consecutive races, all sprints, at Emerald Downs in 2007.