06/15/2011 2:06PM

Emerald Downs: Rossi Reserve looks strong taking drop

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AUBURN, Wash. – Rossi Reserve couldn’t keep pace with stakes horses in her last start but looks promising Friday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. Dropping into a $12,500 claimer after finishing fifth in the Seattle Handicap, Rossi Reserve charts as a strong betting favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies. First post time is 6 p.m. Pacific and the feature is the seventh race on an eight-race card.

Trained by Tom Wenzel for Jerre Paxton’s Northwest Farms, Rossi Reserve won her first start of 2011 on May 14, rallying in the stretch to collar front-runner Tasya in the final strides of a first-level optional allowance. Those presumably were better horses than the ones Rossi Reserve has to contend with Friday. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 66 in her victory, about three lengths faster than anything recorded by any of her rivals.

In addition to looking like a short-priced winner on paper, Rossi Reserve will have the riding services of Leslie Mawing, who begins the week with a 38-35 lead over Joe Crispin in the Emerald standings. Mawing steered Rossi Reserve to her victory in May but Robert Skelly was aboard for the stakes race.

Rossi Reserve will break from the 2 post in the six-furlong race. A late-running sprinter, she should be able to save ground before launching a bid turning for home. The pace figures to be honest, with recent maiden winners Giacomina and Smiley Mylie both eager for the lead. A favorable setup could make Rossi Reserve a single for many bettors in the 50-cent pick five, a new wager being introduced at Emerald on Friday. The pick five will cover the final five races on the card each day.

Giacomina could start as the second favorite. She led throughout in her first start of 2011 to win a $17,500 maiden claimer by more than two lengths, and then was fifth behind Rossi Reserve on May 14 in her first try against winners. Trainer Vann Belvoir has named Javier Matias to ride Giacomina, who has worked three times, most recently five furlongs in 59.20 seconds, since her last start.

Smiley Mylie broke through with a maiden victory in her 10th career start and then put forth a career-best effort June 4 in her first start against winners. Beaten by a length in a $10,000 claimer for older fillies and mares, she could be a handful as she returns to the 3-year-old filly division. Gallyn Mitchell will ride for trainer Doris Harwood.