08/27/2009 11:00PM

Mile should suit Knight Raider


AUBURN, Wash. - Knight Raider, nothing short of brilliant in her past three starts, looms a prohibitive favorite Sunday in the $60,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at Emerald Downs. The meeting's first two-turn test for 2-year-old fillies, the one-mile Shinpoch attracted a field of eight, including five horses who finished far behind Knight Raider in the six-furlong Angie C. Stakes three weeks ago.

Knight Raider finished sixth in her racing debut June 4, but then won her second start, a $12,500 maiden claimer, by 10 3/4 lengths. She won the restricted Knights Choice Stakes by 13 lengths, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.20. And she won the Angie C. by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:09.40. That's three consecutive front-running victories by a combined 30 1/2 lengths, putting her head and shoulders above the rest of Emerald's juvenile fillies.

The key question Sunday: Can Knight Raider keep rolling as the distances increase? Her only sibling, Oneknightledo, has won 6 of 18 starts but has never routed. But her dam, Knight Weave, was 2 for 4 at Sunday's distance, and her sire, the late Tribunal, sired a handful of quality middle-distance runners, including Mulcahy, who captured the 2007 Emerald Derby at nine furlongs. A mile shouldn't be an issue for Knight Raider, particularly on a surface that has been lenient to speed horses all summer.

Knight Raider is the fastest 2-year-old filly on the grounds, recording consecutive Beyer Speed Figures of 78, 71, and 74. The only other juvenile filly to record a Beyer higher than 70 this summer at Emerald was Feeling Fancy, who is being prepared for a fall campaign in Northern California. Knight Raider's human connections are first-rate, too. Doris Harwood sits atop the trainer standings, and Ricky Frazier is Emerald's leading rider. Harwood and Frazier teamed to win the 2007 Barbara Shinpoch with Smarty Deb, who parlayed her Emerald success into a fifth-place finish in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park.

Knight Raider's primary challengers appear to be Sheyenne Girl, a stakes winner at Northlands Park who closed smartly to finish second in the Angie C. in her Emerald debut; and Rewritten, who rallied from last to finish third in the Angie C.