09/05/2014 2:42PM

I Keep Saying will be the one to catch in Muckleshoot Tribal Classic

Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs
I Keep Saying, a record-setter two starts ago for 6 1/2 furlongs, stretches out to 1 1/16 miles Sunday in the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at Emerald Downs.

AUBURN, Wash. – Speed could be king Sunday in the main event on Washington Cup Day at Emerald Downs. I Keep Saying, who set the North American standard for 6 1/2 furlongs when he ran the distance in 1:12.94 six weeks ago, will try to carry that speed a fair bit farther in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at 1 1/16 miles.

The centerpiece of Emerald Downs’s annual showcase for statebreds – six $50,000 stakes races for horses either foaled in Washington or by stallions standing in the state – the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic will go as race 9 on an 11-race program beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific. In the most anticipated race on the undercard, the sixth, the undefeated sensation Trackattacker will try for his fourth consecutive victory in the Daily Racing Form Dennis Dodge Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

The Muckleshoot attracted just five entrants. Several other Washington Cup races drew small fields, and only four are scheduled to start in the one-mile Chinook Pass Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings. There is a clear standout in the Chinook Pass – Noosito will be a commanding favorite – but that’s not the case in the Muckleshoot. One could make a winning argument for any of the five. I Keep Saying is the one they’ll have to catch.

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Key contenders

I Keep Saying (Last 3 Beyers: 72-89-80)

* I Keep Saying was assigned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure for his record-setting victory July 27, a day when the Emerald surface was extraordinarily fast. I Keep Saying set fractions of 22.01 seconds, 43.89, and 1:06.82 and had plenty left in the final yards en route to a 6 1/4-length victory.

While he has yet to win around two turns, I Keep Saying should have few distance limitations. He’s by Yankee Gentleman, and both his dam and second dam won stakes around two turns.

Mike Man’s Gold (Last 3 Beyers: 72-83-85)

Mike Man’s Gold made his past two starts at Del Mar, finishing third in a $32,000 claiming sprint and fourth for $40,000. He was trained in California by Vann Belvoir. He is trained at Emerald Downs by David Martinez, Belvoir’s former assistant.

Mike Man’s Gold boasts a stakes victory at the Muckleshoot’s distance. He took the Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-olds last July. His other five wins have all come sprinting.

Dare Me Devil (Last 3 Beyers: 80-90-84)

Dare Me Devil has tried the one-mile distance eight times in his 37-race career but never has gone farther. He recorded his most recent route victory last July, beating $15,000 claimers at Emerald Downs with a 77 Beyer.

Trainer Rigoberto Velasquez has heated up in recent days, winning with six of his past 11 starters. Jockey David Lopez has been red-hot as well, capping his latest run with a four wins on Labor Day.