08/05/2009 12:00AM

Olympic Lights hard to catch at Emerald


AUBURN, Wash. - Olympic Lights, West Seattle Boy, and Yes Bay top a field of nine entered in the feature race Friday at Emerald Downs. An open $15,000 claimer for older horses at six furlongs, the feature is the seventh race on an eight-race program that begins at 6 p.m.

Olympic Lights is the quickest horse in the race. Dropping a class level for his second start following a 12-week layoff, he figures to play a prominent role either setting the pace or forcing it. A 5-year-old trained by Charles Essex, Olympic Lights has won 4 of his 10 starts at Emerald Downs, with all four victories at Friday's distance. In his most dominating effort, he won a $17,500 claimer by 10 lengths in 1:08.20 last July, earning a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Troy Stillwell has the riding assignment.

West Seattle Boy returns to the races after a brief layoff in search of a record-tying 16th victory at Emerald. Stuck on 15 since his victory in a $25,000 claiming sprint June 20, the late-running 10-year-old will be ridden by Seth Martinez for trainer Rigoberto Velasquez. With a victory, West Seattle Boy would join Market Master and Bob Stories as the most prolific winners in Emerald's 13-plus seasons.

Yes Bay had a four-race winning streak snapped when he finished second behind next-out winner Chickasaw Park in a $20,000 claimer July 10. A lightly raced 5-year-old, Yes Bay never has been worse than second in seven starts at six furlongs. Regular rider Jennifer Whitaker will be back in the irons for trainer Howard Belvoir, who has a second horse, Coastal King, in Friday's field.

Claimed for $15,000 in late May, Coastal King has eight victories at Emerald Downs, but has yet to make an impact in three starts since the claim.

Sea Speaker looms a possible upsetter. A 4-year-old trained by Pat Mullens, Sea Speaker finished sixth in a one-mile $32,000 optional claimer in his most recent start. He could turn things around with the class relief and shorter distance Friday. Jose Zunino has the call.

Other contenders include Plain James, who has 2 seconds and 2 thirds in 4 starts at the meeting, and Toutlelew, who steps up a level following a victory for $12,500 July 17. Zillah's Knight, winless since July 2006, and Montana shipper Silver Wildcat complete the field.