07/21/2003 11:00PM

Gillihan has dangerous pair in dash

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AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Terry Gillihan, who improved his record to 29 winners from 90 starters at the meeting when he scored with both of his entrants on Sunday, saddles two dangerous contenders in Thursday's top offering at Emerald Downs.

The Thursday feature is a six-furlong race for $25,000 claimers that have not won two races other than a maiden race, and it has drawn a field of six older horses.

The Gillihan-trained duo consists of American Writer and Screamin Passion, who will race uncoupled due to separate ownership. American Writer will be trying to get back on track after two subpar efforts in May, when he finished fourth for a $40,000 tag and ninth against open $25,000 company. He has since posted six workouts, including a pair of bullet five-furlong drills, and may be ready to recapture the form that saw him finish second to horse of the meeting Flying Notes and third to the undefeated Willie the Cat in two starts here last season.

Screamin Passion will be returning from a longer layoff, having been sidelined since October. In his last race he closed for third, beaten a length, in a $40,000 starter allowance sprint at Bay Meadows.

The other four in Thursday's field all contested a 6 1/2-furlong race June 29, run under the same conditions as Thursday's race. Country Starlight finished fast for second that day behind Chinook Cat, who returned last Sunday to defeat open $40,000 claimers in a rapid 1:14.60 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Know Sumthin, Badger K. Eli, and Tazarr, all entered back on Thursday, finished third, fourth, and fifth in the June 29 race.