09/26/2008 12:00AM

Hired Hand drops in class


Hired Hand is going to be tough to beat in race 9 at Emerald Downs Sunday, a $20,000 starter allowance for 3-year-olds and up that have run for a claiming price of $15,000 or less in 2007-08.

Hired Hand comes in off a second-place finish in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at Emerald on Sept. 14, a race he lost to the 3-5 favorite Wasserman by a neck. Hired Hand set a pressured pace that day, put away a dogged Scalding Passion in deep stretch, and succumbed to Wasserman grudgingly a few jumps from the wire. Hired Hand runs for less than half that purse Sunday, and there's no Wasserman in the field.

Tracfurtogafur is an interesting rival, shipping in from a small track in the town of Elko in northern Nevada, where he won the Governor's Cup on Aug. 31. Tracfurtogafur has won 7 of his last 9 starts, but for small purses, such as the Governor's $9,000.

Skyrider has 10 wins in 30 lifetime starts and his trainer, Blaine Wright, has a positive $2.11 return on investment with 31-to-60-day layoffs over the last five years, according to DRF's Formulator. Skyrider finished a fast-closing third, just 1 1/4 lengths behind Hired Hand, in his last start, a $25,000 starter allowance at Emerald on Aug. 23.