06/09/2011 9:54AM

Emerald: Praise a Native ready to rebound

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AUBURN, Wash. − Praise a Native and Rainier Missile headline the feature race Saturday at Emerald Downs, a $15,000 claimer for 3-year-olds who have never won twice. It will go as race 9 on an 11-race card that begins at 2 p.m. Also on tap is a simulcast of the Belmont Stakes shortly after 3:30.

Four of the five horses in the Emerald feature have won at the current meeting, and the fifth horse, Rainier Missile, won at Turf Paradise in April.

Praise a Native, fourth as the 7-5 favorite his last start, could be favored again. He made his career debut last September on the final day of the Emerald meeting, finishing second in a key race: The top three finishers won their next start, with Praise a Native winning a $17,500 maiden claimer April 15 in his first outing following a seven-month layoff. He showed a willingness to make up ground along the rail when he surged through a narrow opening on the turn to take command.

Trainer Blaine Wright then tried Praise a Native in a $25,000 claimer for nonwinners of two, and he finished third after a wide trip, behind top-two finishers Gdanz Xpress and Carr Creek, who hooked up in a speed duel shortly after the break.

Praise a Native looks fit for a top effort Saturday after working six furlongs in 1:11.40 on May 30 and following with a five-furlong breeze last weekend. He will break from the inside post under Joe Crispin.

Rainier Missile has one win in 10 starts − a 2 1/4-length victory April 2 at Turf Paradise − but he has been competitive more often than not. He has four runner-up finishes, most recently on May 20, when he finished 6 3/4 lengths behind Rainier Ice, who ran six furlongs in 1:09.30 and seems destined for stakes company. A repeat of that effort would put Rainier Missile in the middle of things Saturday.

Dre’s K is the probable pace-setter Saturday. He has been an all-or-nothing proposition, winning a $12,500 maiden claimer by six lengths and losing his other three starts by a combined 44 1/2 lengths. He is quick off the blocks and will have to be caught.

Rounding out the field are Be There Joe, who won his maiden by 6 3/4 lengths last time out at Emerald, and Kafwain Secret M D, who won his maiden two back but was well beaten in his first try against winners three weeks ago and figures to be the longest price on the board.