07/01/2010 11:00PM

Gadget Queen tries to catch Clair Annette

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AUBURN, Wash. - Gadget Queen, a two-time stakes winner at Emerald Downs and stakes placed five other times, looms the horse to beat Sunday in the $50,000 King County Handicap, the sixth of nine races on a Fourth of July program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Eight fillies and mares were entered for the one-mile King County, though the wagering figures to focus on just two: Gadget Queen, a late-running middle-distance specialist, and Clair Annette, one of the fastest sprinters on the grounds. It's the age-old handicapping question: Can the closer catch the speed? Clair Annette holds a 2-1 advantage in their previous meetings.

Most recently, at the end of the 2009 Emerald meeting, Clair Annette captured the 1 1/8-mile Belle Roberts in her first start around two turns, beating Gadget Queen by 1 1/2 lengths. Last June, Gadget Queen ran down Clair Annette to win the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Handicap by three lengths after Clair Annette was used up in a speed duel. In 2008, Clair Annette finished nearly 10 lengths clear of Gadget Queen in a $32,000 claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Gadget Queen had a big winter in California -- two allowance victories at Golden Gate and fourth- and fifth-place finishes in stakes races at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. Overall, the Blaine Wright-trained 6-year-old has won 8 of 29 starts and earned $245,210 for owners John and Janene Maryanski. Ricky Frazier, the leading rider at Emerald, replaces Inoel Beato, who guided Gadget Queen to a fifth-place finish in the Washington State Legislators on May 31 in her first start following a four-month layoff.

A lightly raced 7-year-old, Clair Annette has won 8 of 18 starts and banked $118,883 for owner Nina Egbert. In addition to the Belle Roberts, she captured the six-furlong Hastings Park Handicap last May. She has raced twice in 2010, finishing third behind No Flies On Doodle in the Hastings Handicap on May 2, and then third behind Concert Music in the 6 1/2-furlong Senate Appointees Stakes at Hastings on June 12. Trained by Connie Bouslaugh, she'll be ridden by Kevin Krigger.

Others in the field are Barbara's Love, who was stakes placed at Santa Anita in 2008 and finished a close third in the Washington State Legislators in her last start; Crocodile Tuff, a 4-year-old with one victory; recent maiden winner Yonnie Creek; Private Fortune, a 3-year-old; Perfect Finish, who could provide pace competition for Clair Annette; and Eyes On the Prize, a two-time winner at Golden Gate last winter.