06/07/2012 10:30AM

Emerald Downs: Pair of comebacking fillies clash on Saturday

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Saturday’s opening race on the Belmont Stakes Day card at Emerald Downs marks the return to action of a pair of 3-year-old fillies who performed in stakes last year.

Forty Something will make her first start since scoring an odds-on victory in the Janet Wineberg at Portland Meadows last Dec. 11. Wild Chica finished second in the Diane Kem at Emerald Downs last September and hasn’t raced since November.

Both will have their work cut out for them in a six-furlong $12,500 claimer for 3-year-old fillies who have never won two races. Five were entered.

Forty Something ran evenly for fourth in an Oregon-bred maiden race at Portland Meadows before winning the Janet Wineberg in her second start six weeks later. Trained by Ben Root in Oregon, she will be saddled Saturday by Kimberly Wales, who will be looking for her first winner of the year.

Forty Something has three works for her return, all at Portland Meadows. She drew the rail and will be ridden by Deborah Hoonan. Wild Chica has a series of solid works at Emerald for her comeback, capped by two at six furlongs.

She scored her maiden victory for a $12,500 tag in her fourth start, and then ran second in the Diane Kem. She then went to California, finishing second by a neck in a $16,000 claimer at Fresno before fading in a $12,500 claimer at Golden Gate Fields. Trainer Tim McCanna has named William Antongeorgi III to ride Wild Chica, who breaks from post 4.

The three runners they will face don’t have comparable credentials but have recency and have enjoyed some success this year.

Bartab may be the sharpest right now. All seven of her starts have come for this $12,500 tag. She’s made three starts this year, hitting the board each time.

After running third in her first start of the year, she pulled clear in the lane for a maiden victory. She then stuck her head in front in the lane when running at the level last time before settling for second.

One of the runners she beat that day was Pretty Darn Good, who returns Saturday.

Gentleman’s Red, overmatched in her lone stakes try last year, ran third against better in her comeback here on April 21. She bounced badly in her next start one month later but has a decent work since then.