05/12/2009 11:00PM

Hit a Star back for more


AUBURN, Wash. - Emerald Downs begins its fifth weekend of racing Friday with an eight-race card beginning at 6 p.m. The seventh and featured race is a $12,500 claimer for fillies and mares that attracted a field of seven, including three horses coming off a victory.

The most intriguing horse in the race might be Hit a Star, a stakes winner who fell on hard times in 2008 and is making her 2009 debut. Hit a Star raced to a surprisingly easy victory in the $50,000 Belle Roberts at Emerald Downs in September 2007, opening a six-length lead in the early stages and coasting to a three-length victory. But she was less effective while making nine starts in 2008, winning just once while dropping into the lower claiming ranks. Trained by Doris Harwood for her husband, Jeff, Hit a Star closed the 2008 season with a third-place finish in a $15,000 starter allowance, her best effort of the meeting. Saul Arias will ride Hit a Star in Friday's feature.

The three last-race winners are Follow Your Shot, who beat $15,000 claimers at Emerald Downs in her final race of 2008; Full Court Press, who raced to a front-running victory over $10,000 claimers on April 25; and Pete's Glory Girl, who got up in the final strides to beat $7,500 claimers on May 2.

Follow Your Shot is likely to attract strong support in the mutuels after winning three of her starts last summer, including two wins at a higher level than Friday's race. Follow Your Shot runs well fresh. She won her first two starts of 2008. Trained by Harwood for the Vital Signs Stable, Follow Your Shot will be ridden by Juan Gutierrez.

Full Court Press has won 11 times in 29 career starts. A 6-year-old mare, she is trained by Charles Essex and will be handled by leading rider Ricky Frazier, who was aboard for her victory April 25.

The Emerald Downs stakes schedule begins in earnest Sunday with the $30,000 Hastings Park Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs. The nominees include Clair Annette, a gate-to-wire winner in each of her past five starts; 2008 Washington Oaks champion Elusive Horizon; and two-time stakes-winning 4-year-old Enumclaw Girl.

Including the Hastings Park, a total of 32 stakes events will be contested over the final 77 days of the meeting.