08/16/2004 11:00PM

Icicle Angel faces much easier task

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AUBURN, Wash. - A field of seven fillies and mares will contend for a purse of $14,300 in Thursday's top offering at Emerald Downs, a six-furlong sprint for $20,000 to $15,000 claimers.

The purse for Thursday's headliner reflects an increase of 15 percent that will prevail throughout the final 20 days of this meeting and all of next year, courtesy of a $1.6 million contribution from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Icicle Angel may be the one to beat in the feature, as she is dropping out of a $25,000 optional claiming test won by the streaking Steal a Mac, who returned to defeat $40,000 optional claimers and is headed for Sunday's $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff. Icicle Angel, a 7-year-old who races for Debra Occhiuto, finished a good fourth in that July 25 event, which was her first outing since May. She won a 6 1/2-furlong race at the $20,000 level here last season and seems well spotted to score again on Thursday, when she will be ridden by Kevin Krigger.

Among Icicle Angel's rivals are recent winners Dashing Lady and L G's Gold. Dashing Lady was claimed by trainer Tim McCanna out of a mile win over $12,500 company on Aug. 7, while L G's Gold defeated $15,000 claimers at six furlongs on Aug. 5, for trainer Larry Wolf.

Sharing the spotlight on Thursday will be another installment of the Stanislaw Ashbaugh Starter Series, which offers enhanced purses for horses that have started for a $3,200 claiming price. A field of seven fillies and mares will vie at a mile for a purse of $8,500 in Thursday's installment, which will go as the seventh of eight live races.