05/26/2008 11:00PM

Favorite Premier Diablo vulnerable

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AUBURN, Wash. - Premier Diablo may be slightly favored facing seven rivals on Thursday at Emerald Downs in a 6 1/2-furlong race for older sprinters eligible to be claimed for $17,500. But he isn't unbeatable.

Premier Diablo, trained by Bob Meeking, ran second under the same conditions at six furlongs in his last race on May 16, and was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Toutlelew in 1:09.40. Last year, Premier Diablo won at the $17,500 claiming level, running six furlongs in a quick 1:08.80. Kevin Radke will ride at 120 pounds.

Premier Diablo, a stretch-runner, may be at a disadvantage because of there appears to be a lack of early speed in the race. And if so, Brainstorm might benefit most.

Though he yet to get a lead by himself, Brainstorm showed early speed in his first three starts at this meeting, including a win going 5 1/2 furlongs in $17,500 company in his season debut. Brainstorm, trained by Rigoberto Velasquez, has since finished second and eighth in $25,000 company at six furlongs. He should appreciate the return to his winning level on Thursday. Gary Baze will ride.

Another threat is Spunky Harry, who has enough tactical speed to remain close to what is expected to be a moderate pace.

Spunky Harry, trained by Tim McCanna, ran third at the $17,500 level in his season debut, which came at 5 1/2 furlongs. He then ran sixth at six furlongs on the same level on May 16, when forced to check at the furlong marker. Seth Martinez rides.