06/09/2005 12:00AM

'Flame' looks best - if ready

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AUBURN, Wash. - Flamethrowintexan will make his 4-year-old debut in Saturday's best race at Emerald Downs, a $40,000 optional claimer that has drawn a stakes-quality field of seven going 6 1/2 furlongs.

Flamethrowintexan, a winner of 8 of 13 career starts and $382,588 in earnings, ranked as last year's top 3-year-old at Emerald after winning two races, including the Seattle Slew Handicap, and finishing a close second to My Creed in the Emerald Derby. He closed out his campaign with an eight-length victory in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby at Hastings and a third in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby.

Though he has not raced since October, Flamethrowintexan has been working brilliantly for trainer Jim Penney. He drilled six furlongs from the gate in 1:10.60 on May 28, then came back with five furlongs in 57.80 last Sunday.

Flamethrowintexan figures to be tested by Best on Tap and Hastings Park stakes winner Commodore Craig, who comes off a second to the venerable Lord Nelson in the 6 1/2-furlong Hong Kong Jockey Club Handicap on May 7.

Best on Tap held the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs until May 22, when Sabertooth broke his record of 1:13.60 with a world-record clocking of 1:13 in the

FSN Handicap. Best on Tap finished second that day, beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Sabertooth.

Rounding out the field are Kasparov, Pure, Count Orange and Corvallis Dee.