05/30/2012 2:10PM

Emerald Downs: Sharp speedsters Seattle Game, Champali Lace clash in sprint feature


AUBURN, Wash. - Sparks could fly Friday at Emerald Downs when Seattle Game and Champali Lace hook up in the feature race. The seven-race card kicks off at 6 p.m. Pacific, and the feature, a $10,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares, is the sixth race on the program.

Each of the two leading contenders is a perfect 2 for 2 at the meeting and has yet to be headed, so something will have to give when they meet for the first time. Seattle Game is coming off a dominating victory for $5,000 and should have little trouble withstanding the class hike. Champali Lace took a similar path in her last start – after crushing $5,000 claimer in her season debut, she tow-roped a good field of $10,000 claimers in her last start three weeks ago.

Seattle Game’s emergence for trainer Frank Lucarelli has been surprising, if only because the horse ran so poorly at Turf Paradise over the winter. But Lucarelli has curbed some of Seattle Game’s bad habits, and the results have been eye-catching. Seattle Game posted a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 79 in her last start. Jockey Leslie Mawing will be back aboard Friday.

Champali Lace has yet to make a false move this year, and she too has a 79 Beyer in her back pocket, for her victory in the $5,000 claimer on the opening weekend of the meeting. While she set a much slower pace in start No. 2, Champali Lace came home in a hurry, running her final furlong in 12.19 seconds. In the next race that day, Class Included came home in 12.23 to win the Hastings Handicap.

Trainer Junior Coffey has coaxed 7 victories from Champali Lace in 14 career starts. She won three in a row during an injury-interrupted 2010, and took 2 of 6 starts last summer at Emerald. Leonel Camacho-Flores has the riding assignment.

While most of the betting will focus on Seattle Game and Champali Lace, the race could set up nicely for a closer such as Outing Mail, who chased Champali Lace to the wire in her last start (but fell nearly four lengths short), or Strategic Patience, making her second start following a long layoff.

Alittlebitfamous is the dark horse. She has won 5 of 9 starts at Emerald Downs and has worked steadily at her Portland Meadows base in preparation for her first start of the year. Alittlebitfamous summoned a career-best effort last May, earning an 87 Beyer while crushing $7,500 claimers.

Princess Kiha, Tasya, and Lonely and Free complete the field.