07/03/2003 11:00PM

Geardown back at best distance

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AUBURN, Wash. - Geardown will be a solid favorite over five rivals in Sunday's feature at Emerald Downs, a $50,000 optional claiming race for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Geardown, a gelded son High Brite from the barn of trainer Bud Klokstad, is coming off an out-of-the money finish under the same conditions at a mile on June 15. Before that, however, he ran a bang-up second to Leather N Lace in the Pepsi-Cola Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs. With the move back to his favorite distance, Geardown figures to be very hard to deny.

He will be ridden by leading rider Kevin Radke at 118 pounds, the impost to be carried by all entrants.

Mr. Makah might be the most formidable challenger, though he will be making his first start of the year. Mr. Makah, a full brother to the good 4-year-old Colony Lane, was never worse than second in three starts last year, including a runner-up performance against $40,000 starter allowance company when he last raced, in October at Bay Meadows.

Another returnee, Run Max Run, also poses a threat off his juvenile form. Trained by Grant Forster, Run Max Run won two of three starts here last summer, including a three-quarter-length score over Geardown in his last appearance, in September, when he scored going 6 1/2 furlongs at the $50,000 optional claiming level.

Too Fast to Top and Savannah Thumper are both recent maiden winners. Bomartini is the apparent speed of Sunday's race, and he ran a strong second to Mr. Elusive in a six-furlong race for $50,000 optional claimers in his seasonal bow in April.