06/05/2013 4:43PM

Emerald Downs: Wasserman to give Jade Road a stiff test

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AUBURN, Wash. – A young buck will meet an old pro Friday when Jade Road, undefeated through two starts, tackles venerable former Longacres Mile hero Wasserman and six others in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The one-mile feature, a $17,500 claimer for older horses, is the sixth of seven races on a program that begins at 6:45 p.m. Pacific.

Jade Road, a 4-year-old homebred for Rodney Orr of Silverton, Ore., made his career debut April 27 in a $10,000 maiden claimer, and while he prevailed by just a nose, Jade Road was a much-improved horse in start No. 2 on May 10, when he set a fast, contested pace and held on to win a restricted $12,500 claimer by a head. Jade Road, trained by Chris Stenslie, will face another difficult challenge Friday as he jumps into the open claiming ranks to meet seven rivals who collectively have won 43 races.

Wasserman has accounted for 12 of those victories, none bigger than his 10-1 upset in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in 2008, when he got up in the final jumps under regular rider Jennifer Whitaker to defeat True Metropolitan. Owned, bred and trained by Howard Belvoir, Wasserman, now 11, has earned more than $587,000 during a career spanning 77 races, including a record $563,336 at Emerald Downs. Yet while his signature victory came around two turns, Wasserman has not been an efficient route horse over the years – he is 2 for 23 at a mile, adding a victory in a $17,500 claimer last summer to his improbable victory in the Longacres Mile.

Jade Road will break from post 2 and will have his third rider in as many starts as Cassie Papineau steps in for Juan Gutierrez. Gutierrez opted to ride the likely pacesetter and betting favorite, Amazing Legacy, who will start from post 3. Wasserman and Whitaker will break from post 6.

Jade Road is likely to get involved in the early going, chasing Amazing Legacy, who blitzed $10,000 claimers in his first start of the meeting, and Touch the Sun, an accomplished miler who has won six routes – all in front-running fashion. The pace should be fast. And if it’s too fast, late-runners Wasserman and Dare Me Devil are candidates to run past the tiring leaders in the final furlong.

The others in the lineup are Moment of Weakness, making his first start since January, Red Coats R Comin, a sharp shipper from Golden Gate, and longshot Free Beer.