07/31/2003 11:00PM

Returning Flying Notes one to beat

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AUBURN, Wash. - Flying Notes, named horse of the meet last season, will face five foes in his return to action in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs at Emerald Downs.

Flying Notes, who races for Johnny and Ruth Lewis, won 5 of 7 starts last season. A 4-year-old son of French Deputy, Flying Notes has been away since winning last September's $125,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby, going nine furlongs in 1:45.80. He also captured the one-mile Seattle Slew Handicap and the

1 1/16-mile Tacoma Handicap as well as a pair of allowance sprints at last year's stand.

Flying Notes, who is prepping for the Grade 3 Longacres Mile on

Aug. 24, will share highweight honors with Total Limit at 120 pounds.

Total Limit, who is also targeting the Mile, has won 3 of 7 starts in Southern California. Though he is still looking for his first stakes win, Total Limit was beaten just a head by Debonair Joe in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes last December at Santa Anita. He shipped to Emerald shortly after finishing second in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Hollywood on July 3. Trainer Grant Forster will saddle the Herman Sarkowsky-owned Total Limit on Sunday.

Flying Notes and Total Limit are both front-runners, as are fellow Governor's hopefuls Handy N Bold, Salt Grinder, and Colony Lane. The pace setup prompted trainer Vann Belvoir to enter the strong-finishing It's a Waki Fact, who is coming off a closing second against $16,000 company at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I know it looks like we're overmatched, but this race sets up for a closer," Belvoir said.