09/19/2006 12:00AM

Pace suits Storm in Session


AUBURN, Wash. -- A competitive field of seven older runners, each eligible to be claimed for $20,000, will contest Thursday's one-mile feature at Emerald Downs.

The field includes two confirmed front-runners in Bartus Christian and Escalante, plus Con Say One, who typically races very close to the pace in his route tries. Those three should provide at least a legitimate pace, and that is good news for Storm in Session.

Storm in Session, a 6-year-old son of Zapped from the barn of trainer Aubrey Villyard, was restrained in last place behind an excruciatingly slow pace at a mile in his most recent outing on Sept. 1. Money Up Front, under a crafty ride by Hector Ventura Jr., led through a quarter-mile in 25.40 seconds, a half in 50, and six furlongs in 1:14.40 before rendering his pursuers helpless with a final quarter-mile in 23.80. Storm in Session came home in an even faster 23.60 to get fourth, but he could not threaten the winner. Storm in Session has won two of his five mile tries at the meeting, however, and should pose a potent threat with more realistic fractions.

Skyrider, Natural Touch, and Devilish Fact also figure to benefit from a lively pace, as all three can finish with gusto. Devilish Fact, a 5-year-old son of Devil His Due trained by Sharon Ross, is racing in particularly sharp form and could be the one to outrun. Devilish Fact ran second to Cowboy Cruisser and third to Corvallis Dee in his last two outings, both mile affairs at the optional $25,000 claiming level.