04/24/2010 12:00AM

Emmy Darling must prove she likes dirt


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Many of this year's out of town Kentucky Derby trainers are not expected to start other horses at Churchill until the regular parade of stakes races kick off on Oaks Day.

But Churchill Downs racegoers will be getting an early dose of John Sadler Sunday when he starts 2008 Landaluce Stakes winner Emmy Darling in the featured ninth race at Churchill Downs, a third-level optional $50,000 claimer at six furlongs on dirt.

Sadler, who is pointing Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney's Candy and Arkansas Derby upsetter Line of David to the Derby, as well as Switch and Crisp to the Oaks, has the expected favorite in Emmy Darling, even though she has never raced on dirt.

A graded-stakes-placed filly, by virtue of a third-place finish via a disqualification in the Grade 3 Sorrento at Del Mar in 2008, she easily leads a field of six fillies and mares in earnings with a bankroll of $203,424.

Although much of her earnings came two years ago at age 2, Emmy Darling has made more than $44,000 this year, with much of that coming from winning a second-level allowance over Santa Anita's Pro Ride surface Feb. 24. Following that race she finished a close fifth in the Clocker's Corner Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita turf March 14.

A 4-year-old daughter of Graeme Hall out of the Colonial Affair mare Dance Delight, Emma Darling is bred to handle the main track.

Just what kind of a main track she catches is unclear. Heavy rain was expected Saturday with a chance of isolated thunderstorms forecasted to linger into Sunday. Calvin Borel has the mount.

If Emmy Darling fails to transfer her sharp form to dirt, Quick Notice stands the best chance of victory. Third in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap last spring, she comes off a 2 1/4-length second-level allowance victory at Gulfstream, one of three races she has had this year.

Quick Notice missed the second half of 2009 after fracturing a knee.

"Since I got her back last fall she has been super," trainer Dave Kassen said.

Alex Solis has the mount.

Hark, Brezing Rain, More of the Best, and She's Extreme complete one of numerous short fields on a card that does not have a single race with more than nine entrants.