05/28/2010 12:00AM

Rooster City deserves a break at Emerald


AUBURN, Wash. - Rooster City, a hard-luck horse if ever there was one, headlines Sunday's feature race at Emerald Downs. The one-mile feature, a second-level allowance for older horses with a $50,000 optional claiming price, is the ninth race on a 10-race program beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Rooster City, a 4-year-old owned by Victor George Bahna Jr. and trained by Tim McCanna, has finished first, second, or third in 9 of his 12 starts. But he has only two victories and has yet to break through in stakes company despite a series of strong efforts against the best horses on the grounds.

Among the near-misses: He finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Gallant Son, in the 2008 WTBA Lads Stakes; second, beaten a half-length by Noosa Beach, in the 2009 Auburn Handicap; second, a head behind Winning Machine, in the 2009 Tacoma Handicap; and second, a head behind Winning Machine, in the 2009 Emerald Derby.

Rooster City has raced twice at the current meeting. He finished second behind the highly regarded Peaceful Reign in a first-level allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs May 2, and then seventh, beaten 5 3/4 lengths, in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap. Returning to allowance company and stretching around two turns for his third start of the year, Rooster City is likely to be a solid favorite in the wagering. Regular rider Seth Martinez has the call.

Rooster City likes to attack from just off the pace, the same style employed by fellow 4-year-old He's All Heart, who will be making his second start of the meeting. He's All Heart captured a first-level allowance at six furlongs May 7. Trained by Larry Wolf, he'll be ridden by Robert Burney.

The other entrants are Elusive Schemes, who faded to finish 10th and last in the Seattle Handicap in his most recent outing; Exclusive Eagle, who hasn't won since 2007; Dixie Meister, a multiple graded-stakes winner in California returning from an 11-month layoff; and Final Judgement, a shipper from Presque Isle Downs returning from eight months on the sideline.

The season's first four-day week concludes Monday with 10 races, topped by the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs. No Flies on Doodle, winner of the six-furlong Hastings Handicap on May 2, is scheduled to renew a budding rivalry with Hallelujah Trail, who finished second in the Hastings, and Gadget Queen, who won the Washington State Legislators last summer.