05/12/2011 3:11PM

Emerald Downs: Win machine Bijou Barrister available for a tag

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AUBURN, Wash. – Bijou Barrister, a revelation last year when he rattled off a seven-race win streak, is scheduled to make his first start of the Emerald Downs season in Saturday’s seventh race, the co-featured event on a nine-race card beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Bijou Barrister’s journey began inauspiciously for trainer Pat Mullens, who co-owns the 5-year-old Tribunal gelding with R.A. Larson and Ed Zenker. After paying $2,000 for Bijou Barrister at the 2007 Washington summer yearling sale, Mullens discovered the horse had career-threatening physical problems. On several occasions over the ensuing two years, he literally tried to give the horse away.

Unraced at 2, Bijou Barrister finally started rolling late in his 3-year-old season. He began his winning streak in a $2,500 claimer at Portland Meadows in October 2009 and proceeded to win for $3,200, $5,000, $8,000, and $10,000 before losing narrowly in a $17,500 claimer at Emerald Downs last July.

“I tried to give him away as 2-year-old, and nobody wanted him,” Mullens said after the streak reached seven. “He went sour again at 3, and I tried to give him away again. Nobody wanted him then, either, so I laid him off 35 or 40 days, and at the end of the meet up here, I started training him and he was going good, so we took him to Portland and ran him for quarter thinking someone would take him. Well, he won and kept climbing the ladder.”

After tasting defeat for the first time in more than nine months, Bijou Barrister rebounded to win again for $10,000. He finished the 2010 Emerald meet with 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 9 starts, and then capped the year with a victory in the Mount Hood Handicap at Portland Meadows.

Bijou Barrister returns to the claiming ranks Saturday, available to be purchased for $12,500. He’s scheduled to face five rivals in the six-furlong race, his first start since he finished fifth as the 9-2 third choice in the $53,000 Portland Mile on March 23. Now 12-for-24 lifetime, Bijou Barrister has seven career sprint victories, each time rallying from midpack to announce his presence at the top of the stretch. Joe Crispin, who was aboard for his stakes victory at Portland, has the riding assignment.

◗ In the co-featured eighth race, Tasya, a romping winner in her final start of 2010, is the one to beat in a first-level optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies.