04/17/2003 11:00PM

'Road' won't miss his arch-rival

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AUBURN, Wash. - Knightsbridge Road makes his 3-year-old debut against five rivals in Saturday's six-furlong, $50,000 optional claiming feature at Emerald Downs - and with arch-rival Bub nowhere in sight.

Knightsbridge Road and Bub staged five memorable duels here last year, with Bub winning four of them, by margins of two lengths, three-quarters of a length, a neck, and a nose. Knightsbridge Road defeated Bub by a head in the Emerald Express Stakes at six furlongs.

Bub earned 2-year-old colt or gelding of the meet honors last meet. With Bub passing Saturday's race in favor of the six-furlong Auburn Stakes May 3, Knightsbridge Road figures to go off as a strong favorite.

He has put in a series of sharp drills at Portland Meadows for trainer Debbie Van Horne.

Four of Knightsbridge Road's challengers have won just a single race. Three of them, Bomartini, Pronto One, and Knight in Silver, graduated at the maiden special weight level here last meet. The fourth, Deke's Star, ran fourth against optional $50,000 claiming company after collecting his maiden win at the $25,000 level.

Mr. Elusive, like Knightsbridge Road, has two wins. He graduated in a two-furlong race at Santa Anita last April and beat $25,000 claiming runners going six furlongs at Golden Gate in March.

Mr. Elusive, who is trained by Terry Gillihan, is the only entrant with recent racing and should benefit from a conditioning edge.

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