10/19/2006 11:00PM

Invaders vs. locals


Washington-based horses often make a big impact in northern California each fall when they ship south after the Emerald Downs season. Eight of them will compete on Sunday's nine-race card, and their presence allowed two races to have enough horses to be carded, including a $12,500 claimer at one mile in which four of the eight runners were Emerald regulars. The nonwinners-of-two race is a showdown between the Washington-based forces and locally based runners.

My Burning Passion is the top Emerald import. Trained by Jim Penney, he graduated at this distance two back and then ran second at this level in his first start against winners. In that last start, My Burning Passion had trouble early and late. He was bumped early and, in assistant trainer Kay Cooper's words, "launched himself" in the lane when he jumped tire tracks.

Ricky Frazier, who won the Emerald riding title, rides My Burning Passion.

"Washington horses run pretty darn tough," said Cooper. "Perhaps some of the graded stakes horses here are better, but we have some good stakes horses, too. Our $12,500 claimers are the equivalent of the $12,500 claimers here, and when Washington horses drop, they can be really tough."

Cooper has run in northern California before. She said the horses who are shipped down from Washington seem to be a bit more lightly raced and possibly fresher than northern California horses, in large part because Washington does not have year-round racing opportunities. Cooper said horses sometimes need a race to adjust to a new track and usually need a work or two to retain their fitness from the end of the Emerald meeting.

The standardbearer for the local runners is Dynamic Event, a 3-year-old who has shown steady improvement during his five-race career. He won his maiden for a $12,500 claiming tag at this distance two races back, on Sept. 10, and then ran second at this level, missing by a nose, in his first start against winners Sept. 29.

Dynamic Event will likely sit closer to the pace than My Burning Passion and get first run in the lane. In his last start, he led in the stretch before being nipped at the wire as the favorite. Russell Baze, northern California's leading rider, rides Dynamic Event.