07/04/2012 4:48PM

Emerald Downs: Opposites collide in claiming feature


AUBURN, Wash. – Horses moving in opposite directions headline Friday’s feature race at Emerald Downs. Hard Slider, a 4-year-old coming off a career-best effort, and Davos, once a stakes-caliber sprinter in Southern California who seems to have fallen on hard times, will be among the leading contenders in a $15,000 claimer at six furlongs. First post is 6 p.m. Pacific, and the feature is the sixth event on a seven-race program.

Trainer Frank Lucarelli is moving Hard Slider up a couple of class levels after the son of City Zip scored a front-running victory against $7,500 claimers while running six furlongs in 1:08.37. His effort earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 76, the fastest last-race speed figure among the six entrants in Friday’s race, and Hard Slider, 2 for 3 this year, seems capable of withstanding the class hike.

Adding to Hard Slider’s appeal, Lucarelli has been on a remarkable hot streak at Emerald Downs. He comes into Friday having won with 12 of his last 18 starters to shoot to the top of the trainer standings. And jockey Leslie Mawing, after a slow start to the meeting, has ridden two or more winners the past five racing days. Mawing, the defending Emerald riding champion, trails current leader Juan Gutierrez 46-42 in the standings midway through the 81-day meeting.

Davos would be a formidable contender on his best day, and he too will be saddled by a high-percentage trainer. Junior Coffey has clicked with seven of his first 17 starters at the meeting, a 41 percent success rate. But Davos has accounted for three of Coffey’s 10 defeats, failing to hit the board while moving steadily down the class ladder. In his most recent outing, he was a non-threatening fourth on a sloppy track against $15,000 claimers. With clear skies in the Friday forecast, Davos might appreciate the return to a fast track. In his final start of 2011, he ran down Hollywood Harbor in a $30,200 allowance sprint on the Longacres Mile undercard. Rocco Bowen has the riding assignment.

Rezar and Chaching Pete are the other leading contenders. Rezar captured a $12,500 claimer June 3 and then was third, less than a length ahead of Davos, in the slop June 22. Chaching Pete, a three-time winner at Emerald last year, has been training forwardly ahead of his first start since October.

Advancement, who faded going a mile on a sloppy track in his last start, and Ontheshadyside, winless in 2011 but improving with each start, round out the field.