06/30/2009 12:00AM

Pirates Deputy way down in class

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AUBURN, Wash. - Pirates Deputy came up aces in 2006, parlaying a victory in the Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs into a whirlwind money grab during the final month of his 2-year-old season. It began in Louisiana, where he finished second in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, and ended in Southern California, where he captured the California Breeders Champion Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita.

The past three years haven't been as kind to Pirates Deputy. He flamed out on the Kentucky Derby trail and never hit the board in six subsequent starts in California. By last summer he was back at Emerald Downs, running in mid-level claiming races. He is scheduled to make his fourth start of the current meeting Thursday in the feature race, a $12,500 claimer at one mile.

Pirates Deputy sprung to life May 29 when he finished second going a mile in a $15,000 claimer. He finished a distant seventh in his next start for $20,000, but drops two class levels for Thursday's race. Trainer Sue Villyard has named Saul Arias to ride Pirates Deputy, whose career line includes three victories and $420,466 in earnings.

Escalante is another top contender in the field of nine. A front-running winner for $12,500 in his most recent outing, Escalante has finished first or second 18 times in 35 starts at Emerald Downs.

The pace could be quick, with Eternal Wind, Little Red Eagle, and Point Dume joining Escalante in the early stages. Eternal Wind won two races at 3 last summer and narrowly missed in a $40,000 optional claimer at Thursday's distance. He made a looming run on the turn against $25,000 sprinters in his 2009 debut May 31. While he faded to finish fifth, he figures to benefit from the class relief and added distance in his second start of the meeting for trainer Tom Wenzel.

Little Red Eagle stretches out after setting a blistering pace in a 6 1/2-furlong, $10,000 claimer four weeks ago, when he skipped six furlongs in 1:09.20 before yielding to finish second. Ricky Frazier, who won five races last Sunday, will ride Little Red Eagle for the first time Thursday.

Tymaker, Random Memo, Plain James, and Box Top complete the field.