09/03/2008 12:00AM

Neck apart last time - what now?

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AUBURN, Wash. - Premier Diablo and Pete Afleet head a contentious field of eight older sprinters, each eligible to be claimed for $17,500, in Friday's 6o1/2-furlong feature at Emerald Downs.

Friday's eight-race card drew a total of 78 runners with no also-eligibles, making the average field size 9.75 horses per race.

Premier Diablo and Pete Afleet met under the same conditions on Aug. 8, when Premier Diablo finished a neck behind winner Morgan's Money after 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16 and Pete Afleet came in another neck back in third. Premier Diablo, trained by Bob Meeking, will be seeking his first win of the season after finishing second three times in seven outings. Leading rider Kevin Radke will have the mount.

Afleet Pete, a 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding from the barn of trainer Tim McCanna, won his first two starts at the meeting before being claimed by R and T Stables on June 14. He ran sixth in a mile test for $25,000 claimers before just missing in his last try, and he has since logged a solid half-mile drill in 49 seconds. Ricky Frazier will ride.

Slews Destiny looms as the one to catch after showing speed to similar or better in all four of his previous sprints, including a wire-to-wire debut win over $17,500 winners in May. In his most recent outing, Slews Destiny tired to finish sixth in $20,000 company after contesting sizzling splits on Aug. 22. He has little apparent pace competition on Friday and may be able to dictate the fractions.