07/29/2009 12:00AM

Juveniles move into the spotlight


AUBURN, Wash. - After dozens of maiden races and a couple of restricted stakes, Emerald Downs enters the heart of its 2-year-old program next weekend when the $50,000 Angie C Stakes for fillies and the $50,000 Premio Esmeralda for colts and geldings will be contested on consecutive days.

The Angie C, on Saturday, Aug. 8, should feature the first meeting between Knight Raider, a laughing winner of the restricted Knights Choice Stakes on June 12, and Sweet Nellie Brown, who captured a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race by 17 lengths in her debut and ran second against males in an allowance race July 19.

The Premio Esmeralda figures to pit Forener, unbeaten and virtually unchallenged in two starts, against Fisher Creek, an impressive maiden winner July 10, and a host of others.

Forener leads the juvenile division, at least for the time being. He has yet to be headed in two starts, and his most recent effort, a nine-length victory over Sweet Nellie Brown, yielded a Beyer Speed Figure of 82, the fastest pre-September race by an Emerald 2-year-old in seven years. He figures to be a short-priced favorite in the six-furlong Premio Esmeralda, a stepping-stone to the season-ending Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles.

Hollywood Harbor, who finished second behind Forener in a maiden race last month and then won the Strong Ruler Stakes impressively, will skip the Premio Esmeralda. Trainer Chris Stenslie said she will train Hollywood Harbor up to the one-mile WTBA Lads Stakes on Aug. 29.

"We're going to wait," Stenslie said Wednesday. "We don't want to do too much with him right now. We want to make sure we have him around as a 3-year-old. He did really well with a four-week break between starts, he was awfully sharp, and I thought three weeks back would be a little quick for him.

"We'll go for the Lads and then we'll know whether to shoot for the Futurity."

The Angie C could feature as many as three fillies trained by Doris Harwood. In addition to Knight Raider, she trains Terrific Tiffany, who won her racing debut two weeks ago, and Oriental Dream, who has 1 win in 3 starts. Ricky Frazier, Emerald's leading jockey, is scheduled to ride Knight Raider.

"She's just getting better," Harwood said of Knight Raider, who won the Knights Choice by 13 lengths. "Ricky was really pleased with her last work, she went an easy five-eighths, and that's his pick in the race. Gallyn Mitchell will ride Terrific Tiffany, and he'll fit her beautifully. Oriental Dream is a maybe."

A couple of highly regarded 2-year-olds already have fallen by the wayside. Feeling Fancy, who recorded a Beyer Figure of 72 in her debut, the fastest race by a juvenile filly at the meeting, was turned out by trainer Frank Lucarelli after suffering a shin injury at Hollywood Park. She will be pointed to a fall campaign in Northern California.

Newfound Man, an impressive maiden winner in late May, suffered a fractured pastern in his right hind leg July 12 during the running of the River Rock Resort Stakes at Hastings, a severe blow for owners John and Janene Maryanski, who paid $36,000 for Newfound Man at the 2008 Washington summer yearling sale.

"They put three screws in there, and the surgery went well," trainer Blaine Wright said. "He's got an 85opercent chance to make a full recovery and be a racehorse again. I feel terrible for the Maryanskis, because this looked like a nice horse. It kind of took the life out of me for a while."

Clair Annette eases back into training

Clair Annette, sidelined since her fourth-place finish in the Washington State Legislators Stakes on June 7, has returned to training and is being pointed to the $50,000 Belle Roberts on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 13. A front-running 6-year-old mare, Clair Annette underwent throat surgery at Washington State University last month after an obstruction was discovered following her last race.

Owned by Nina Egbert and trained by Connie Bouslaugh, Clair Annette recorded her first career stakes victory in the six-furlong Hastings Park Handicap in May, leading gate to wire for her fifth consecutive victory (she was disqualified from one win after causing interference at the start). Her winning streak ended in the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators, however. She faded in the final furlong, after a speed duel with Southern California shipper High Resolve through splits of 21.20 seconds and 43.20.

"The injury was unfortunate, because she's going to miss about three stakes races," Bouslaugh said this week. "She may go somewhere to race this winter. She's lightly raced, and it would be a shame to turn her out, but that will be up to her owner."

* The director of media relations at Emerald Downs , Vince Bruun, spent Wednesday morning on the Del Mark backside and was scheduled to return Thursday. He traveled to Southern California to recruit horses for the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile, the Northwest's signature race, on Aug. 16.

* David Crabill of Milton, Wash., topped a field of 400 on Sunday to win Emerald's qualifying tournament for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship, scheduled for January in Las Vegas. Crabill pocketed a $20,000 first prize and earned one of nine Emerald berths in the national championship.