08/21/2012 3:49PM

Emerald Downs: Zippin E shooting for fifth win of meet

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AUBURN, Wash. – After three dark days to digest the results from Sunday – when Class Included dominated the Emerald Distaff and Taylor Said narrowly won the Longacres Mile – Emerald Downs enters the final stretch of its 81-day meeting with seven races Thursday. It’s the final Thursday program of the meeting, and with just 17 racing days remaining, many of the season-ending honors have been decided.

One that is very much up in the air, however, is claimer of the meeting. One of the leading contenders for that award, Zippin E, will try for her fifth victory of the meeting in Thursday’s feature race, a $3,500 starter allowance at one mile. Ridden by Leslie Mawing for trainer Charles Essex, Zippin E will start from post 7 in a highly competitive eight-horse field.

A 5-year-old City Zip mare, Zippin E arrived at Emerald Downs this spring following earlier career steps in Delaware, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, and California. But aside from a 23-day period late in 2010, when she won a maiden race, and then a $12,500 claimer, at Hollywood Park, Zippin E was winless in 23 starts. As it turns out, she has been a happy camper on the sandy dirt at Emerald Downs while developing into an ultra-consistent performer at one mile. After missing by a head in her first try at the distance in April, she won two in a row, lost by a length, and then won two more in succession.

In her most recent outing, against $5,000 claimers, Zippin E tracked a slow pace and easily ran by the leaders on the second turn to win by 5 1/4 lengths. She has been the betting favorite in each of her past six starts and is likely to be heavily backed again Thursday in what may be her toughest Emerald Downs test to date.

Among the leading challengers are A. Lurie Girl, who has finished first or second in 13 of 27 starts at Emerald and has four victories at the distance; Roarified, the likely pacesetter and undefeated in two starts around two turns; and Lonely and Free, who finished second against some tough $7,500 claimers in her previous route attempt.

Roarified and Lonely and Free have the two inside post positions and are the most likely to want the lead, with Whos Calling Now, breaking from the outside post, also likely to be assertive in the early stages. Zippin E, A. Lurie Girl, and perhaps Have’n a Wild Time, a recent winner for $5,000, are the top contenders from off the pace.