04/23/2010 12:00AM

Plenty of horses to bet on at Emerald


AUBURN, Wash. - With the meeting's first stakes event still a week away, an allowance race for 3-year-old colts and geldings will serve as the feature race Sunday at Emerald Downs. First post is 2 p.m. Pacific, and the headliner is the ninth of 10 races.

The first 10-race card of the meeting, Sunday's program seems to signal the end of concerns about a horse shortage. The races for Saturday and Sunday filled as scheduled when entries were taken Wednesday morning, and Sunday's card attracted 72 horses, an increase of 44 percent from the previous Sunday, when 50 horses competed during an eight-race card. Average field size this Sunday: 7.2 horses per race. Average field size during the 2009 meeting: 7.43 horses per race.

The feature race, a 5 1/2-furlong first-level allowance with an $18,000 purse, lured the day's smallest field, but the five contestants appear to be evenly matched. They include stakes-placed runners Rescue Plan and Edaciously, speedy Turf Paradise shipper Boundtogetbusy, and two horses making their 2010 debuts after recording sharp maiden victories in their final start at 2.

Much of the wagering will focus on Rescue Plan, who finished second behind Hollywood Harbor in the six-furlong Premio Esmeralda Stakes last August. A Roy Lumm-trained son of Smarty Jones, Rescue Plan returned from a two-month freshening to finish third behind the undefeated Forener in a $40,000 optional claimer last Saturday. Wheeling back eight days later, Rescue Plan figures to be a prominent pace player under 2008 Emerald riding champion Seth Martinez.

While Rescue Plan looms large, Boundtogetbusy stands out on the Beyer Speed Figure scale: Each of his three starts at Turf Paradise yielded a rating higher than anything posted by his four adversaries in Sunday's race. Trained by Charles Essex, Boundtogetbusy finished second in a $25,000 optional claiming sprint in his last start March 12. Troy Stillwell has the riding assignment.

The other three horses are returning from extended layoffs. Edaciously, also trained by Essex, finished a distant second, eight lengths behind Koala Beach, in the restricted Dennis Dodge Stakes in September and hasn't been seen since. Gallyn Mitchell will be aboard for the first time Sunday.

Hoodoo Canyon blitzed a field of maidens in his only start, which came last July, and Bogachiel set swift fractions before drawing clear in a $20,000 maiden claimer in August.