09/04/2008 12:00AM

Red Redding runs fresh for a tag


AUBURN, Wash. - Red Redding will return from a freshening to take on five other 3-year-olds, each eligible to be claimed for $30,000, in Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong feature at Emerald Downs.

Red Redding defeated maiden special weight company at a mile last March at Santa Anita. He has raced twice at this meet, running a creditable fourth to Margo's Gift in the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi Cola Handicap on June 1 before failing to reach contention en route to a seventh-place finish in the one- mile Tacoma Handicap on June 29. Trainer Charles Essex gave Red Redding some time off after that sub-par effort, but he has come back to post two recent workouts, including a half-mile move in 47.40 seconds Sunday. If he is ready to reprise his Pepsi Cola effort, he will be the one to beat under rider Debbie Hoonan.

The improving Poncho could provide the sternest challenge. Poncho came to hand with a game nose victory over maiden special weight company in his last outing on Aug. 9, when he covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17. That was the fourth start for Poncho, who appears to be heading in the right direction after finishing second to maiden special weight foes in his Emerald Downs debut in July.

Spokalu, who beat modest $12,500 maidens by 18 lengths before checking in fifth after racing wide in his first try against winners, is a possible live longshot.