07/19/2013 3:43PM

Emerald Downs: Stryker Phd could outrun his odds again in Mt. Rainier Handicap

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Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs
Jebrica (No. 4) and Stryker Phd (left) finished first and second in the Budweiser Handicap on June 16 and get a rematch in Sunday's Mt. Rainier Handicap.

AUBURN, Wash. – Stryker Phd, a fast-closing second at long odds in each of his past two starts, will take another run at trying to notch his first career stakes victory when he starts Sunday in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs.

The final local stakes for older horses before the Grade 3 Longacres Mile on Aug. 18, the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier attracted six entrants and will be run as the ninth race on a 10-race program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Stryker Phd, the runner-up in the Governor’s Handicap at 40-1 and in the Budweiser Handicap at 19-1, could be the longest shot on the board yet again in a field that includes Tres Borrachos, a graded stakes winner in Southern California with more than $1 million in career earnings; Herbie D, the leading middle-distance runner at Hastings in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Emerald Downs stakes winners Jebrica, Winning Machine, and Hoist.

Margo Lloyd, who trains Stryker Phd for Jim and Mona Hour, has no complaints about her horse’s outsider status. Lloyd, who has yet to win a race at the meeting but has been knocking on the door – she is 0 for 17, with four seconds and six thirds – has her hands on a legitimate contender. If the pace is fast, the late-running Stryker Phd could make his presence felt in the final furlong.

“You know what? When you start complaining about your seconds and thirds, it can get worse,” Lloyd said. “Especially when two of the seconds are in stakes races. All of my horses, they have been running well.

“He just has to run his own race. He’s been training well, and hopefully everything will turn out okay.”

In his most recent outing, the one-mile Budweiser on June 16, Stryker Phd rallied boldly under David Lopez to miss by three-quarters of a length, then ran by the winner, Jebrica, a couple of jumps past the wire. He will have a new rider Sunday, as Debbie Hoonan, who missed the Budweiser because of injury, climbs back aboard.

Adding to his outsider status, Stryker Phd has just one lifetime victory, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on turf at Golden Gate Fields in November, but he has finished in the top three in seven of his eight starts.

By Bertrando, out of the Smart Strike mare Striking Scholar, Stryker Phd is bred to thrive at the Mt. Rainier’s distance. Acting on Lloyd’s advice, the Hours paid $45,000 for him at the 2010 Washington summer yearling sale.