06/14/2006 11:00PM

Lots of pace for Beaulena to target

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AUBURN, Wash. - Beaulena looms as the one to deny in Saturday's Emerald Downs feature, a six-furlong race that has lured a field of seven fillies and mares to compete under $25,000 optional claiming conditions.

Beaulena, a 6-year-old daughter of Beau Genius from the barn of trainer Richard Wright, returned from an absence of more than 17 months to run a bang-up second under the same conditions on May 28. Beaulena closed from far back to be beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Dinner at Arlene's after 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.40.

Though she will be shortening up on Saturday, Beaulena owns a win from three starts at six furlongs and she should have a fast and contested pace to target. Miz Mitzie, Hit a Star, Zingara, and Bold Tizzy all have excellent early foot, and it is unlikely than any of those front-runners will be able to sprint clear and dictate the fractions.

Regardless of the crowded pace scenario, Hit a Star figures to be a formidable challenger for Beaulena after posting four straight wins. In two starts at the current meeting, Hit a Star has contested the pace through fast half-miles before drawing away to defeat $15,000 and $20,000 foes. She got six

furlongs in a rapid 1:09.40 in her most recent score, on May 26, and trainer Doris Harwood has again named Gallyn Mitchell to ride.

Saturday's feature will go as the ninth race and the third leg of a late pick four with a guaranteed pool of $25,000. The guaranteed pool will be a fixture on Saturdays through the remainder of the meeting, which ends Oct. 1.