07/10/2009 12:00AM

Knight Raider looks best


AUBURN, Wash. - It's not often a horse steps directly from a $12,500 maiden claimer to stakes company as the wagering favorite, but such is the probable scenario Sunday at Emerald Downs, where Knight Raider looms the horse to beat in the $30,000 Knights Choice Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

Restricted to progeny of nominated stallions, the 5 1/2-furlong Knights Choice attracted a field of eight, including two first-time starters and three others who have yet to record their maiden victory. Knight Raider is one of three winners in the race, and her 10 3/4-length victory for $12,500 three weeks ago elevates her to the favorite's role. Knight Raider, a Tribunal filly trained by Doris Harwood, recorded a 73 Beyer Speed Figure in her maiden win, the second-highest Beyer by a 2-year-old at Emerald Downs this year.

Emerald Downs's leading rider Ricky Frazier has the call on Knight Raider, who drew post 2, with the other obvious speed horses to her outside.

One of those is Cahill Cutie, who has run two sharp races for leading trainer Tim McCanna. Cahill Cutie prevailed gamely in a $30,000 maiden claimer two weeks ago after a race-long speed duel. Juan Gutierrez was aboard that day and has a return engagement Sunday.

The most intriguing first-time starter is Angel's Keep, a sibling to Emerald Downs stakes winner Jade Green and current 3-year-old standout Peaceful Reign. Trained by Jim Penney, Angel's Keep will be ridden by Gallyn Mitchell.

Silna, a late-running Cahill Road filly trained by Larry Ross, figures to be well backed. After starting slowly in her career debut June 20, Silna unleashed a powerful rally to finish fourth, beaten less than five lengths, going 4 1/2 furlongs. She should relish the extra furlong Sunday. Apprentice Cassie Papineau is scheduled to ride.

Little Blast and Ono Annie, both trained by Frank Lucarelli, also figure to benefit from the longer distance. Little Blast closed smartly behind Cahill Cutie to miss by a neck in her career bow. Ono Annie rallied after a troubled start to finish fourth in the same race, less than two lengths behind the winner. There are some speedy horses in Ono Annie's female family, and she could be more prominent in the early stages Sunday.