08/30/2012 3:37PM

Emerald Downs: Mysincircus jumps up in class

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AUBURN, Wash. – An eclectic group of six will compete Saturday in the featured eighth race at Emerald Downs, a one-mile $17,500 claimer for fillies and mares that have never won three times.

One of the six has a stakes victory at a mile, while two others will be trying two turns for the first time. The favorite could be Mysincircus, jumping up sharply in class following her five-length victory in a conditioned $7,500 claimer in early August. The race is wide open, with only the likely pacesetter, La Distanza, expected to be a longshot in the wagering.

Mysincircus, by Royal Academy, seems to have found her niche as a middle-distance specialist. She captured an $8,000 maiden claimer at Golden Gate in March in her first attempt at one mile and has thrived for trainer Dan Markle since arriving at Emerald Downs in late May. In her most recent outing, against nonwinners of two, she tracked a fast past, moved readily to the leaders on the turn, and bounded away to win by five lengths while running a mile in 1:35.73. That effort earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 72, making her, on paper, some two to three lengths faster than her rivals in Saturday’s race.

But Mysincircus will have to make some adjustments, both to the higher level of competition and to a new jockey. William Antongeorgi III, who steered Mysincircus to her recent victory, has jumped to another horse, Stephiano, and Jose Zunino will ride Mysincircus for the first time Saturday.

Among the other leading contenders is Sweet Saga, who captured the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes last summer at 2 but is winless in three starts this year, all for trainer Larry Ross. Sweet Saga competed in a claiming race for the first time in her last start, closing strongly to finish third for a $15,000 tag going 6 1/2 furlongs. Returning to her favorite distance, she figures to be a threat from off the pace under jockey Debbie Hoonan.

Stephiano also has winning form at a mile, having captured a $12,500 claimer for 3-year-olds in her first try at the distance July 7. Trainer Chris Stenslie was sufficiently high on Stephiano to run her in the 1 1/8-mile Washington Oaks in her last start. She finished seventh, more than eight lengths behind the winner.

Just Have’n Fun, a two-time winner at the meeting, and La Distanza are trying a route distance for the first time. Greenback Forest, claimed for $15,000 less than two months ago, rounds out the field.