07/21/2009 12:00AM

Private Lesson has key edges


AUBURN, Wash. Private Lesson looms a prohibitive favorite Thursday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. A $25,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, it s the seventh race on an eight-race program that begins at 6 p.m.

Trained by Doris Harwood for her husband, Jeff, Private Lesson has won 2 of her 5 starts at the meeting and most recently finished third in a second-level allowance sprint behind Super Dixie and No Flies on Doodle, an effort that was validated last Sunday when No Flies on Doodle won the Washington s Lottery Handicap.

Private Lesson, who will be making her first start around two turns, is by the Seeking the Gold stallion Private Gold, suggesting she should have little trouble getting a mile. She drew the No. 2 post position, and the 1, 2, and 3 posts have yielded 51 winners in 91 route races at the meeting. Private Lesson s last-race Beyer Speed Figure of 75 puts her four or five lengths ahead of her nearest competitor. And leading jockey Ricky Frazier will ride her for the first time Thursday. With 96 winners through the first 51 days of the meeting, Frazier is on pace to shatter his track record for victories in a season.

Everything points to Private Lesson as an odds-on favorite in the six-horse field, though Start Time, a lightly raced filly from the Jim Penney barn, could offer a stern challenge in her third career start. Well beaten in her most recent outing, when she finished six lengths behind Private Lesson going 6 1/2 furlongs, Start Time stands to move forward in her first route attempt. Jockey Troy Stillwell replaces apprentice Cassie Papineau, who was aboard for Start Time s first two starts, including a maiden victory against colts in her racing debut May 30.

Where I Belong, who is trained by Harwood and will be ridden by Saul Arias, also will try two turns for the first time. Unraced since May 24, when she finished a distant eighth in the Federal Way Handicap, Where I Belong was a fast-closing second in the six-furlong Inaugural Stakes in her season debut.

De Cantina won a $15,000 claiming sprint in her most recent outing. While stepping up in class Thursday, she is a proven router, finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Oregon Oaks at Portland Meadows in early March. Trainer Brad Varner has named Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo to ride.