09/22/2006 12:00AM

Favorable scenario for Melba Jewel

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Trainer Frank Lucarelli will look to widen his lead in the race for leading trainer Sunday, when he sends out two contenders in the Emerald Downs feature, a six-furlong test that has drawn a field of six fillies and mares eligible to be claimed for $20,000.

After saddling two winners on Thursday's card, Lucarelli held a 44-37 lead over his nearest pursuer, Howard Belvoir. Lucarelli will saddle six runners Sunday, including Melba Jewel and Zairsaplan in the feature.

Melba Jewel outfinished three of her Sunday rivals when she finished second to Don't Ignore Me in a 5 1/2-furlong test for $25,000 optional claimers Sept. 10. She again figures to have a fast and contested pace to target, and the additional sixteenth of a mile should help her chances. A 5-year-old daughter of Cahill Road owned by Chris and Diane Randall, Melba Jewel will be ridden by Ricky Frazier.

Zairsaplan is coming off a third-place finish behind Last Thoughts in a mile race here Aug. 13. In her most recent sprint try, Zairsaplan led throughout to defeat $15,000 claimers by a length, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.20. Kevin Krigger will ride Zairsaplan, a 6-year-old daughter of Game Plan owned by Donnybrook Stable.

The only other member of the field who was not outfinished by Melba Jewel in her last outing is Lady Eliza, a 3-year-old trained by K.G. Apostolou. Lady Eliza has only a maiden win from five starts and appears to be an outsider.