08/24/2010 9:26AM

Emerald meet turns into the home stretch


AUBURN, Wash. – Seventy-two down, 18 to go. That’s how many racing days remain at Emerald Downs in 2010, beginning with a seven-race program Thursday, the final Thursday card of the meeting. First post is 6 p.m. Pacific.

The feature race, a $7,500 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, attracted seven entrants. Eyes On My Heart, a gate-to-wire winner under similar conditions in her last start, could start as the favorite for trainer Vann Belvoir. Fly Away and Orange Sherbet, both two-time winners at the meeting, are the other leading contenders.

The week concludes Sunday with two one-mile stakes races for 2-year-olds, the $50,000 WTBOA Lads for colts and geldings, and the $50,000 Barbara Shinpoch for fillies.

in the meantime, the race for the training title could heat up. Tim McCanna, seeking his 10th title in 15 seasons at Emerald, holds a 48-44 advantage over Belvoir, with Frank Lucarelli in third with 43 wins.

McCanna will send out three runners Thursday: Demon’s Gone Wild, a 2-year-old maiden making her second start, in the second race; leading contender Marishek in the fifth; and longshot Luckyladylightning in the seventh. Belvoir, dividing his time between Emerald and Remington Park in Oklahoma City, also has three horses on the card: Perhaps Perhaps, a leading contender in the third race; longshot Deputy Dean in the fourth; and Eyes On My Heart in the seventh.

McCanna has been in a minor lull lately, winning with 3 of his past 33 starters following a 13-for-37 binge from July 24-Aug. 8. But some of his biggest moments have come in stakes. Winter Warlock won the Aug. 8 Premio Esmeralda for 2-year-olds, Saratoga Boot dominated the $75,000 Emerald Derby on Aug. 15, and Jersey Town, making just his second start of 2010, finished a clear second behind Noosa Beach in the $203,125 Longacres Mile last Sunday.

McCanna’s starters have earned $580,969 at the meeting, about $17,000 more than three-time defending earnings champion Doris Harwood. McCanna won earnings titles in 2000 and 2004.

Ricky Frazier, seeking his fifth title in seven full seasons at Emerald, holds a commanding 94-70 lead over Juan Gutierrez in the jockey standings. Frazier’s mounts have earned $1,014,564 at the meeting, about $388,000 more than runner-up Gallyn Mitchell.

Noosa Beach, expected to make his final start of the year in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Sept. 12, has wrapped up honors as horse of the meeting.