05/08/2009 12:00AM

Maiden one to fear in allowance


AUBURN, Wash. - A first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies is the feature race Sunday at Emerald Downs. The 10-race card begins at 2 p.m. and the feature will go as the ninth race.

The race attracted a promising field of nine, including eight winners and three horses trained by Doris Harwood. Yet the lone maiden, the well-bred Seeking Ema, could go to post as the betting favorite.

By Seeking the Gold out of former Emerald Downs sprint sensation Ema Bovary, Seeking Ema has raced four times for owner Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms. Paxton bred Seeking Ema and kept her after she failed to meet his reserve at the 2007 Keeneland summer sale. Turned over the Harwood for training, she narrowly lost two maiden races last summer at Emerald Downs, and was a fast-closing third behind undefeated winner Ladyledue in the Inaugural Stakes on April 25, her first start of 2009.

Harwood said her three horses in Sunday's feature - Seeking Ema, Lotta Passion and Where I Belong - are being pointed to the $50,000 Federal Way Handicap on May 24. Juan Gutierrez, who has been aboard for each of Seeking Ema's starts, has the call again Sunday.

Lotta Passion was an impressive winner in a maiden race in her career debut April 25, and her 72 Beyer was 6 points higher than Ladyledue's number on the same day. Owned by Frank Gaunt, Lotta Passion will be ridden by Emerald Downs's leading rider Ricky Frazier.

Where I Belong finished on nearly equal terms with Seeking Ema in the Inaugural Stakes, charging through on the inside to fall a head short of Ladyledue. Where I Belong races for Barbara Ratcliff's Coal Creek Farm. Saul Arias has the mount.

Other leading contenders include Crocodile Tuff, who finished second in back-to-back first-level allowance races at Sunland Park this winter; Glou Bou Liza, a romping maiden winner last September; Wavy Road, a close third in a $25,000 claiming race in her first start of 2009; and No Flies on Doodle, who dominated lower-level maiden claimers in her career debut April 19.

After a rare week with no stakes events, the battles for division honors begin in earnest next Sunday with the $50,000 Hastings Park Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs. A total of 32 stakes races will be contested during the final 77 days of the meeting.