06/20/2006 12:00AM

Lack of pace main hurdle for 'Demon'


AUBURN, Wash. - Fans should make it a point to be punctual on Thursday, because the best race on the card at Emerald Downs is the opener. The first race is a $17,500 claiming event at 1 1/16 miles, and it has drawn an evenly matched field of six 4-year-olds.

One obvious contender is Wantabeademon, who comes off a smart second when racing a mile under the same conditions on June 4. Wantabeademon closed from seventh, finishing 3 1/2 lengths behind Hav'n a Tizzy Fit in just his second start of the year. Wantabeademon, who is trained by Sharon Ross, finished almost a length ahead of third-place finisher J D's Date, who will also contest Thursday's opener.

An obstacle for Wantabeademon and J D's Date, who also comes from far back, is that there does not appear to be much speed for them to target.

Golden Jive is a possible pacesetter off his wire-to-wire maiden win at Portland Meadows in February, when he defeated maiden special weight runners at six furlongs by more than six lengths. Golden Jive has come from off the pace in his last three tries, which include an allowance win at Portland Meadows and a pair of thirds against $17,500 claimers at this track, but he could show speed in his first try around two turns. Golden Jive, who is trained by Grant Forster, is a big, long-striding individual who seems likely to relish the route game.

Rounding out the field are Sky Harbor, Intensive, and For the Prize, all of whom scored at a mile here last season.