07/14/2009 11:00PM

Maltese Tiger due for a win


Maltese Tiger aims to continue his good form and make amends for a couple of near-misses as the favorite this meet when he heads Friday's $11,550 feature at Emerald Downs. The six-furlong event, for $12,500 claimers, lured a field of six and goes as race 7 on the eight-race Friday night program.

Owned by Three Sisters Thoroughbreds and Judy Tamara and trained by Mike Chambers, Maltese Tiger showed ample promise early in his career. The son of dual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow was originally purchased for $500,000 as a yearling in 2004 and then was sold back for $1 million as a 2-year-old in 2005. Alas, things never quite panned out as the now 6-year-old gelding didn't make his debut until April 2008.

His form since has been solid. He won his maiden here last September and then easily beat claimers in two races at Turf Paradise. After a winter vacation, he came back with two sharp races in Phoenix, tried turf there on April 20 to no avail, and got back on track when returned to dirt at Emerald. He dueled for the lead and ran second May 16, and then did the same June 19 in a spot similar to this.

Chambers is enjoying a strong meet, winning with 13 of his first 44 starters (30 percent). Regular rider Seth Martinez remains aboard.

Toutlelew, and trained by Bonnie Jenne, has been competing against more expensive rivals. His last win came over $20,000 foes here last summer. After running sixth at Emerald last September and taking a winter layoff, he has come back with just one good outing in three tries this meet, a second against restricted $25,000 foes on May 22.

The drop in price may help, and jockey Ricky Frazier stays with him. Frazier and Jenne have been superb together here, going 5 for their last 11 (45 percent).

Mr. Makah once faced the best around here, and while he's not the same, the 9-year-old gelding may still have enough to make a dent. Also trained by Jenne, he came back to Emerald after a year on the bench to be third for $15,000 and fourth for $10,000. He failed to threaten when seventh for $10,000 July 3 but can do better. Gallyn Mitchell rides.

Plain James has seven straight good finishes over the past year. Little Red Eagle is very quick and may be poised for a theft with the rail draw.