05/25/2012 3:40PM

Emerald Downs: Talk to My Lawyer looking sharp for Seattle


AUBURN, Wash. – Talk to My Laywer, hero of the Gottstein Futurity last summer, headlines a crackerjack field Sunday in the $50,000 Seattle Handicap at Emerald Downs. First post is 2 p.m. Pacific, and the season’s first stakes for 3-year-old fillies is the eighth race on a nine-race card.

Talk to My Lawyer won just once in four starts last year but saved her best effort for the biggest stage. Only 12 fillies have captured the Gottstein in its 74 runnings, and Talk to My Laywer was the second filly to win the race at Emerald Downs, which opened in 1996. The other, Smarty Deb, parlayed her 2007 victory into a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Talk to My Lawyer may lack Breeders’ Cup potential, but the daughter of Lawyer Ron seems to have a very bright future, particularly in races around two turns. Her Gottstein victory was achieved at 1 1/16 miles. But Talk to My Lawyer looked full of herself in winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race in her first start of the current meeting and will be among the betting favorites in the 6 1/2-furlong Seattle.

Leslie Mawing will ride Talk to My Lawyer for trainer Chris Stenslie and they will break from post 7. Talk to My Lawyer’s preferred style is to track the leaders from three or four lengths off the pace, and she’ll have many targets to pick off in a field full of speedsters.

Among those committed front-runners are Exclusive Diva, undefeated in two sprints starts last year, and Lady Hokulea, who spent her winter in California after a snappy maiden victory at Emerald in September.

Exclusive Diva, by the influential stallion Bernardini, finished five lengths clear of Talk to My Lawyer in the six-furlong Angie C Stakes last August, and then was a close third after setting the pace in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes in her final outing of 2011. Lady Hokulea finished third in a Golden Gate allowance sprint in her most recent start March 22. Exclusive Diva and Lady Hokulea will lock horns for the first time Sunday, and their expected battle up front figures to play a pivotal role in the outcome.

If the leaders set a reckless pace, the Seattle could set up for a closer such as Talk to My Lawyer, Regal Betty, who was a stakes winner in Arizona in January, or perhaps Royal Moses, who was stakes placed last year and opened the new year with a powerful victory in a maiden race.