06/30/2006 11:00PM

Everything looks in place for 'Nephew'


AUBURN, Wash. - Norm's Nephew is poised to take over leadership of the handicap division at Emerald Downs with a victory over six rivals in Monday's $40,000 Independence Day Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Norm's Nephew, a 4-year-old son of Jazzing Around from the barn of trainer Jimmy Orr, was named Emerald's top 3-year-old after winning 4 out of 7 starts at the 2005 meeting. He has raced twice this season, finishing third to Spanish Highway and Flamethrowintexan in the 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap and second to R. Associate in the Emerald Handicap at a mile.

Spanish Highway, Flamethrowintexan, and R. Associate are all skipping the Independence Day, leaving the door wide open for Norm's Nephew to take command of the division. Norm's Nephew is the starting highweight under 119 pounds with regular rider Kevin Krigger in the irons.

The main obstacle to Norm's Nephew's ascent is Roscoe Pito. Now 6, Roscoe Pito has gone unplaced in four starts this year and appears to be off form, but he is capable of waking up in a hurry if he gets the lead to himself.

Roscoe Pito has won 9 of 25 career starts for $553,297 in earnings, and he led throughout in every one of his victories. He appears to be the clear speed of Monday's field, and it is a good bet that he will be urged to the utmost to secure a place at the front of the pack. Trainer John Snow has named Kevin Radke to ride at 116 pounds.

Also a threat is Confidential Call, who has won both of his starts at the meeting. Confidential Call, a 4-year-old son of True Confidence who is trained by Jim Penney, placed in three stakes last year, but ended the stand with just a maiden win from nine starts. He has come to hand this year, defeating $30,000 starter allowance company at 6 1/2 furlongs and first-level allowance company at a mile.

Confidential Call is a deep closer and should appreciate the longer distance of the Independence Day Handicap, but he may be compromised by an uncontested pace. Ben Russell will ride at 115 pounds.

Monday's program will have a special 5 p.m. first post to accommodate the track's annual Fireworks Spectacular, which will start at 10:15.