04/05/2010 11:00PM

Plenty of familiar faces are back

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AUBURN, Wash. - Most of the prominent players from the 2009 meeting will be front and center again Friday when Emerald Downs opens its 15th season of Thoroughbred racing.

Ricky Frazier, runaway winner of the 2009 riding title, is set to defend his crown after a winter campaign in Pennsylvania, where he primarily rode at Penn National. Tim McCanna begins the 89-day meeting with designs on his 10th Emerald training title. And Doris Harwood, whose horses earned an Emerald season record $931,916 last year, will attempt to top the trainer money list for the third consecutive season.

Frazier won 155 races and nearly $1.5 million in purses at Emerald in 2009. He headlines a jockey colony that also features Gallyn Mitchell, the 2009 runner-up with 114 wins and Emerald's all-time leader with 1,173 victories; Juan Gutierrez, who finished third with 98 wins a year ago, and 2008 riding champion Seth Martinez, who finished fourth.

They will be joined by newcomer Inoel Beato and veterans Troy Stillwell, Deborah Hoonan-Trujillo, Jose Zunino, and Jennifer Whitaker, each of whom finished in the top 10 in 2009. Joe Crispin, the leading rider at Portland Meadows by a wide margin, also could be a factor should he come north after the Portland meeting ends May 1.

One notable absence: Cassie Papineau, who in 2009 set an Emerald record for wins by an apprentice with 70. Currently 17th in the standings at Turf Paradise, Papineau is taking the summer off, her Emerald Downs agent, Boone McCanna, said. But losing Papineau freed McCanna to pick up Beato, a 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic who had been riding in Northern California.

"He's 113 pounds and he's a race rider," McCanna said. "He'll make a good impact here."

McCanna's brother, Tim, again looms large in the trainer ranks. He saddled 64 winners at Emerald in 2009, falling two short of the track record he established in 2008. McCanna is Emerald's career leader with 708 victories; Frank Lucarelli is a distant second with 576.

Harwood equaled the track record for stakes victories last summer, saddling 12 added-money winners, and set a record with 21 juvenile winners. With stable stars Knight Raider and Winning Machine and a gaggle of promising 2-year-olds, she is well positioned for another strong meeting. Ditto the father-and-son tandem of Howard Belvoir, who has saddled the past two Longacres Mile winners, and Vann Belvoir, who won 54 races in 204 starts (26 percent) in 2009.