06/25/2008 11:00PM

Pirates Deputy takes plunge


AUBURN, Wash. - Pirates Deputy will take a parachute drop in class to contest Saturday's top offering at Emerald Downs, a one-mile test for $10,000 claimers that has drawn a field of nine.

Pirates Deputy, a winner of two six-figure stakes and more than $400,000 from 15 starts, will be racing for a claiming price for only the second time. He ran for a $62,500 tag last fall at Santa Anita, finishing sixth.

Still, Saturday's placement for Pirates Deputy makes sense. Since winning the Gottstein Futurity for trainer Aubrey Villyard and the California Breeders' Championship for trainer Bob Baffert as a 2-year-old, Pirates Deputy has not been competitive with good horses. He went unplaced in six starts for Baffert as a 3-year-old. Returned to Villyard's barn this year, Pirates Deputy has failed to outfinish a horse in two starts against optional $40,000 claimers. Villyard hopes that Saturday's class relief will serve as a tonic for Pirates Deputy, who will be ridden by Leslie Mawing.

Seventy Sixer, who may be favored, is Pirates Deputy's polar opposite. Seventy Sixer, an 8-year-old from the barn of trainer Neil Knapp, was never a stakes horse and he raced for a $3,500 tag as recently as April. He is razor sharp, however, winning his last three races while ascending to the $7,500 level. Gallyn Mitchell will take over the mount from regular rider Ricky Frazier.

Frazier has opted to ride Tougher'n Owljuice.