05/24/2001 11:00PM

Eye Spy looks ready to improve

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AUBURN, Wash. - Ten older sprinters, eligible to be claimed for $12,500 down to $10,000, seek a second career win in Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong feature at Emerald Downs.

Four in the field exit a common race, which was run under the same conditions at six furlongs on May 12. Eye Spy, Don Double D, Demons Derby, and Colonel Dixie finished second through fifth, in order, behind Knight Invasion in that race, and Eye Spy might be favored on Saturday after outfinishing his returning rivals by anywhere from three-quarters of a length to five lengths.

Eye Spy, a 4-year-old son of Eagle Eyed who races for Jack and Teresa Hodge's Oak Crest Farm, looked as though he might win the May 12 race, which was his first start at the Emerald Downs meeting. Eye Spy loomed boldly while racing wide into the stretch but hung a bit late and could not quite reach the front-running Knight Invasion. With a recent race under his girth, Eye Spy figures to sustain his bid on Saturday, when he will be ridden by apprentice Jennifer Whitaker at 115 pounds.

Of those who chased Eye Spy home, Colonel Dixie might have the best chance to reverse the outcome. Colonel Dixie, who was making his first start of the year, was the 7-2 second choice to Knight Invasion but compromised his chances when he acted up badly in the gate. Trained by Earl Brown, Colonel Dixie gave way after contesting the pace for three furlongs but might last much longer if he conserves his energy until the gates open.