06/12/2007 11:00PM

Light My Ducks returns after stint in California


AUBURN, Wash. - Light My Ducks looms as the one to beat in Friday's Emerald Downs feature, a 5 1/2-furlong race that has lured a field of nine older fillies and mares eligible to be claimed for $12,500 to $15,000.

Light My Ducks, a 5-year-old daughter of Basket Weave, is returning to Emerald after an absence of more than 20 months. Light My Ducks won 2 of 7 starts at Emerald for Mallard Stable and trainer Terry Gillihan before departing for California, where she won her first start for a $32,000 tag at Santa Anita and was claimed. She was claimed back by her former connections from her second start in California, another winning effort for a $40,000 tag at Hollywood Park, and she has since raced seven more times in the Golden State without winning.

She did run second twice at the $62,500 optional claiming level last winter at Bay Meadows, however, and should prove difficult to handle against $15,000 claimers if she can reproduce one of her better efforts. Macario Rodriguez will ride at 119 pounds.

Zairsaplan figures to offer the probable favorite her stiffest opposition after winning at the same level last time out on June 2, when she prevailed by a neck in 1:09.40 for six furlongs. Zairsaplan, a 7-year-old from the barn of trainer Frank Lucarelli, normally comes from well off the leaders and should have a lively pace to target on Friday, when she will be ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 121 pounds.