07/04/2013 3:12PM

Emerald Downs: Razar may be tough to catch stretching out to a mile


AUBURN, Wash. – After a pair of very sharp efforts in sprints, Rezar will try to stretch his speed around two turns Saturday in the feature race at Emerald Downs, a $17,500 claimer for older horses at one mile. It’s the eighth of nine races on a program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Rezar, a 5-year-old by Songandaprayer, has started three times at the meeting for trainer Blaine Wright. Wright said Rezar has been a more manageable horse this year after being gelded over the winter, and the results have been promising: He led gate-to-wire to win a $15,000 claimer May 24 in his second start and then finished a close second for $17,500 on June 23 after being compromised in a taxing speed duel.

Owned by Heidi Nelson’s Nelson Family Racing, Rezar has yet to win routing on dirt, though he did prevail in a one-mile maiden race on the grass at Golden Gate in 2011. Getting the distance Saturday should not be a problem, though jockey Isaias Enriquez could have his hands full trying to rate Rezar in the early going. In his past two starts, Rezar has covered six furlongs in 1:08.80 and 1:08.89.

While Rezar is likely to be the favorite, Wasserman will be the sentimental choice for many. Hero of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in 2008, Wasserman, now 11, has been fading gracefully toward retirement for owner/trainer Howard Belvoir, but victories have been hard to come by – he is 2 for 32 over the past four years. The late-running Wasserman’s best hope is that Rezar goes too fast early, setting things up for a deep closer. Wasserman won a $17,500 claimer at one mile in 2012, recording a Beyer Speed Figure of 74. A similar effort would make him a contender.

Others in the field are Faster Than Duke, Dare Me Devil, Lessons in Deceit, Moment of Weakness, and Ugottabcatty. Faster Than Duke has just one lifetime victory and figures to be a longshot, while Lesson in Deceit, shipping in from Idaho, could be hard-pressed to keep up with a better brand of competition.

The other three – Dare Me Devil, Moment of Weakness, and Ugottabcatty – should attract wagering interest. Dare Me Devil and Moment of Weakness finished second and third, respectively, under Saturday’s conditions June 7 in a race won by Touch the Sun. Ugottabcatty conquered Rezar in his last start, slipping through on the rail to pick up the pieces after Rezar tired from his pacesetting efforts. The setup could be vastly different in the rematch, with Rezar likely to set an uncontested pace.