06/08/2004 12:00AM

Rightbyu tries to stop free-fall

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AUBURN, Wash. - Rightbyu, who was named claimer of the meeting after winning five races at Emerald last season, drops to the $8,000 level to take on nine other older fillies and mares in Thursday's six-furlong feature.

Rightbyu, a 5-year-old from the barn of trainer Roy Lumm, began last year's stand with a six-furlong win over $8,000 rivals, then won for tags of $12,500, $16,000, $20,000, and $25,000. After taking the winter off, she has run sixth against optional $25,000 company and $12,500 claimers at the current meet. Gallyn Mitchell will take over the mount from an injured Sandi Gann.

Rightbyu, a front-runner, will break from the outside post with at least five other speed horses lined up to her inside. Her most formidable pace rival might be Freetobeme, a Gary Olsen-trained 4-year-old who has won 5 of 12 career starts. Freetobeme began her current campaign with a narrow victory over $8,000 company on May 2, when she got six furlongs in 1:11.40, then showed the way before tiring to finish fourth in her most recent outing, at 6 1/2 furlongs on May 28. Gary Baze will ride Freetobeme for the first time on Thursday.

The presence of so many speed horses in the field bodes well for Freedom March, who may be the strongest finisher entered. Freedom March, a 4-year-old trained by Richard Wright, is returning to the $8,000 level for the first time since winning for that tag last year. Her best finish in three starts at the meet was a second to $12,500 company April 23.