05/26/2004 11:00PM

Matlock steps out of key race

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AUBURN, Wash. - When Matlock launched his 6-year-old campaign with a second against Thunzarr in a six-furlong test for $8,000 claimers on May 1, it looked like a good effort.

Now that six of the eight horses in that race have run back, it looks even better.

Thunzarr, fifth-place finisher Bob Stories, and seventh-place finisher Table Me N Saros have all returned to win, while third-place finisher Murdock and eighth-place finisher Allrightea have come back to run second.

Matlock will attempt to add to the accomplishments of the horses exiting that key race on Saturday, when he steps up to the $12,500 level to take on six other older sprinters in the 6 1/2-furlong feature. Matlock, a son of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea from the barn of trainer Roy Lumm, won five of his 14 starts last year, all at route distances, and figures to appreciate the added distance on Saturday.

Matlock could get his stiffest opposition from Murdock, whom he outfinished by just over two lengths in the May 1 matchup. Murdock came back to run second to Thunzarr when racing 6 1/2 furlongs for a claiming price of $10,000 on May 15 and could be coming up to a peak effort in the third start of his form cycle.

Also dangerous is Knight in Silver, who is dropping out of a fourth-place effort against $16,000 rivals when going 6 1/2 furlongs on May 9. Knight in Silver was beaten only three lengths in 1:16.20, and he finished ahead of Right You Are, Bryanzole', and Cascade Casey, all of whom are entered back in Saturday's feature.