09/10/2009 12:00AM

Icy Ridge steps it up a notch at Emerald


AUBURN, Wash. - Icy Ridge, a three-time winner at the meeting, headlines the feature race Saturday at Emerald Downs. Racing begins at 2 p.m, and the feature, a $15,000 claimer for older horses at one mile, is the eighth race on a nine-race program.

Icy Ridge, a 6-year-old gelding who began his racing career in Ireland and spent most of the 2006 and 2007 seasons in Southern California, has won his past two starts. He rallied from off the pace to win a $7,500 claimer Aug. 8, running a mile in 1:36.20, and then got up to win by a neck for $12,500 on Aug. 23, again completing the mile in 1:36.20. Owned and trained by Mike Puhich, he steps up another class level Saturday. Regular rider Troy Stillwell has the call.

A fast pace would enhance Icy Ridge's chances, and one may ensue with speedsters Follows None and Courting Seattle in the field. Follows None dueled for the lead in a $17,500 claiming sprint Aug. 8, and pressed the pace for $20,000 the last time he routed in late July. A 4-year-old trained by Jim Penney, Follows None will be ridden by Emerald's leading jockey, Ricky Frazier.

Courting Seattle, making his first route start since an appearance in the 2007 Longacres Mile, figures to assert himself early. He won three consecutive sprints in front-running fashion before finishing fourth, three lengths behind the winner, in his last start Aug. 15. Claimed that day for $10,000, he'll be making his first start for trainer Joe Toye. Apprentice Cassie Papineau has the riding assignment on Courting Seattle, who will break from the inside post position in a seven-horse field.

Mr. Makah, a two-time stakes winner at Emerald Downs in 2005, also has a realistic chance. The 9-year-old gelding has run four sharp races in a row, most recently finishing third, less than three lengths behind the winner, in a one-mile $12,500 claimer two week ago. Trainer Bonnie Jenne has named Gallyn Mitchell to ride.

The field also includes Platinum Katillac, who finished a neck behind Icy Ridge in his last start Aug. 23 but hasn't won since July 2007; Hickory Road, who is stepping up in class in search of his third consecutive victory; and One Quick Brew, a Portland Meadows stakes winner who finished a fast-closing second for $12,500 in his last start.