09/02/2009 11:00PM

R Samurai has spot to rebound

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AUBURN, Wash. - R Samurai, unlucky to lose his last start, tops a field of six 3-year-olds in the feature race Saturday at Emerald Downs. A $15,000 claimer for horses who have never won two races, the one-mile feature is the eighth event on a nine-race card starting at 2 p.m.

Trained by Jim Penney, R Samurai finished second, a neck behind Whitney Bridge, in a $17,500 claimer at one mile on Aug. 22. But R Samurai, a Florida-bred son of Milwaukee Brew, covered far more ground than the winner, racing four wide on the second turn and then closing gamely. Apprentice Cassie Papineau retains the mount, and R Samurai drew the inside post position, setting the pair up for a ground-saving trip. With no committed front-runners in the race, R Samurai figures to be prominent from the outset.

R Samurai, who has 1 victory in 6 starts, is the probable wagering favorite, with Maximum Pleasure and Passion Lives Here also attracting considerable support. Maximum Pleasure, trained by Doris Harwood, finished fourth in his last start, the race won by Whitney Bridge, his fourth consecutive strong effort at Saturday's distance. Regular rider Javier Matias has the call on Maximum Pleasure, who will add blinkers for Saturday's race.

Passion Lives Here picks up the services of leading rider Ricky Frazier while dropping in class following a last-place finish in a $30,000 claimer three weeks ago. Passion Lives Here closed sharply at six furlongs to finish third behind next-out winner Jake La Gold in his previous start Aug. 6. Dan Markle trains Passion Lives Here, who drew the outside post position.

The field also includes Tucannon, who has finished second 5 times in 9 career starts; Flash an Run, who won a $17,500 maiden race in his most recent outing; and Born'n Blue Genes, whose best effort was a second-place finish in a $17,500 claimer at one mile in early July.

* Racing at Emerald Downs continues Sunday, and the Labor Day weekend concludes Monday with the running of the $75,000 Emerald Derby, the track's presumptive 3-year-old championship. Ten horses were nominated for the nine-furlong Derby, including Peaceful Reign, who won the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap on Aug. 2; Noosa Beach, a two-time stakes winner at the meeting; Winning Machine, who captured the one-mile Tacoma Handicap on June 28; and Devil Cat M D, a two-time winner at Santa Anita last winter and most recently second in a $75,000 optional claimer at Hastings.