07/29/2011 3:26PM

Emerald Downs: Newfound Man, He's All Heart clash in feature

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AUBURN, Wash. – Newfound Man, a stakes winner in 2010, and He’s All Heart, a game winner in his last start, headline the feature race Sunday at Emerald Downs. A first-level optional $32,000 claimer, it’s the ninth race on a 10-race card that kicks off with a 300-yard Quarter Horse dash at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Newfound Man has been a hard-luck horse. After a scintillating victory in his career debut in May 2009, he suffered severe injuries to a hind leg during a stakes race at Hastings and was laid up for nearly a year. He returned in fine form last summer for trainer Blaine Wright, winning the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap in gate-to-wire fashion, one of two victories in five Emerald starts.

Wright then took Newfound Man to Northern California, but the horse was a fish out of water on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Golden Gate, training poorly in the mornings and failing to distinguish himself in the afternoons. Wright pulled the plug after two starts, gave Newfound Man another six-month break, and then brought him back at Emerald Downs. In his only start this summer, on July 4, he rallied to finish second behind the very fast Hollywood Harbor after being forced to steady shortly after the break. That effort sets him up for a strong showing Sunday. Leslie Mawing, Emerald’s leading jockey, has the riding assignment.

He’s All Heart has operated on the fringes of the handicap division the past two seasons. He finished third in the restricted Muckleshoot Tribal Classic last September, one race after winning a one-mile optional claimer. Overall, he has finished in the top three in 15 of 23 starts for trainer Larry Wolf. Most recently, he rallied to take a $25,000 claiming sprint while running six furlongs in 1:08.68, his best effort of 2011 and a possible springboard to a peak effort Sunday. Gallyn Mitchell will ride.

Go With Gusto has three victories at the current meeting and was second, only a half-length behind He’s All Heart, in his most recent start.\

Noble Juan, a lightly raced 5-year-old, will make his first start in nearly a year. Absolutely Cool developed into a competitive sprinter at Turf Paradise last winter and has worked forwardly for his first start following a two-month layoff.