04/29/2008 11:00PM

Markle duo will run late in sprint


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Dan Markle will have two solid shots at the $12,000 purse for Friday's Emerald Downs feature, a six-furlong test for $17,500 claimers.

Markle will send out the Tim and Sue Spooner-owned pair of Coach Sween and Top Threat, who will race coupled in the wagering. Coach Sween, a 5-year-old son of Defensive Play, just missed when racing 5 1/2 furlongs on the same level in his seasonal bow on April 19. Coach Sween was beaten a half-length by El Palqui in 1:03.20, and he was closing strongly under rider Gary Baze. The added sixteenth of a mile would seem to play to his advantage Friday, when he will again be ridden by Baze at 120 pounds.

Top Threat, a 4-year-old son of He's Tops, has also raced once at the meeting, in a different 5 1/2-furlong affair for $17,500 claimers on April 19. Top Threat came from far back to get fourth behind Brainstorm in that test, which was also run in 1:03.20. Last year at 3, Top Threat graduated on the maiden $17,500 level before running a very good second in a one-mile allowance in his final start of the year. Leslie Mawing will have the mount on Top Threat, who must carry 124 pounds.

A potential problem for the Markle trainees is an apparent lack of pace in Friday's feature. None of the nine entrants is a confirmed front-runner, but both Petion Prince and Hunt for Glory have flashed speed on occasion and they might combine to provide an adequate pace for the closers to target.