07/26/2005 11:00PM

Pool Boy back against tougher

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AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Tim McCanna admitted he was taking an edge when he entered the speedy Pool Boy for a $20,000 tag July 1. Just how big an edge he was taking may become evident Friday, when Pool Boy challenges seven other older sprinters in a $40,000 to $30,000 optional claiming race at six furlongs.

Pool Boy has won 4 of 7 career outings, and he was twice stakes-placed here last season. Nonetheless, McCanna entered him in a six-furlong sprint for $20,000 claimers July 1. Nobody dropped a claim slip, but after Pool Boy led throughout to score a two-length win with speed to spare, many wished they had.

With that race under his girth, Pool Boy again looks like the one to beat despite returning to tougher company.

Pool Boy might get his stiffest opposition from Count Orange, who returned to his best form in his last start July 9. Count Orange, a four-time winner here last season, was unplaced in his first two starts this year. He looked as good as ever in his last outing, however, running down a loose-on-the-lead Go Devil Go to prevail in 1:15.80 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

Also dangerous is Starbird Road, who is coming off a sharp win over $25,000 optional claimers June 18. Turban, a double stakes winner here in 2003, missed all of last season with an injury and will be making his second start on the comeback trail.