09/08/2010 11:52AM

Race may set up for Blame the Jockey

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AUBURN, Wash. – Blame the Jockey could have things his way Friday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. He’s the only late-runner in a five-horse field of 3-year-olds going six furlongs for a $25,000 claiming price. It’s the seventh of eight races on a card that begins at 6 p.m. Pacific.

Blame the Jockey won two of his first four starts at the meeting for trainer Frank Lucarelli before going to the sideline for more than two months. He returned Aug. 21 in a race quite similar to the one Friday, but lacked his customary closing kick and settled for fourth place, two lengths behind Tequila Gold, Cat On Base, and Howmuchisit, who hit the wire in a three-horse blanket finish.

If he moves forward in his second start following the break, Blame the Jockey can be formidable in the final furlong. The other four entrants are like-minded front-runners, all but ensuring a fast pace. If they start trading punches early, Blame the Jockey can sit chilly under regular rider Francisco Duran and wait for the leaders to peel away. He won a first-level allowance under similar circumstances May 29, and just missed behind promising sprinter Demosthenes when employing similar tactics June 13 in his final start before the layoff.

Cat On Base, who has never been worse than third in seven career starts, and Howmuchisit, making his second start following a three-month layoff, will be well backed in the wagering. They finished noses apart Aug. 21 after a prolonged speed duel, though Howmuchisit might have more improvement potential Friday. He’s made just three career starts and likely needed his last race following the long stretch on the sideline. Kevin Krigger will ride Cat On Base for trainer Howard Belvoir; Gallyn Mitchell has the call on Howmuchisit for trainer Vann Belvoir, Howard’s son.

The other two starters, Rescue Plan and That’s Lucky, also have realistic chances to take down the winner’s share of the $15,100 purse. Rescue Plan trounced $12,500 claimers in his last start, running six furlongs in 1:09.20 to earn an 82 Beyer Speed Figure, the fastest last-race Beyer in Friday’s field. That’s Lucky, shipping in from Hastings, faded to finish last behind next-out winner Charterhill in a first-level $50,000 optional claimer in his most recent outing seven weeks ago. He has never started at Emerald, but he’ll have the services of the track’s leading rider, Ricky Frazier.