07/29/2008 12:00AM

Sharp fillies match up in sprint


AUBURN, Wash. - Something will have to give when two of the sharpest claiming fillies on the grounds, Lil Squirt and Jazzy June Bug, meet for the first time in Thursday's Emerald Downs feature. The feature is a six-furlong test for $17,500 claimers that has drawn seven fillies and mares.

Lil Squirt, a 4-year-old daughter of Marquetry from the barn of trainer Charles Essex, is coming off a pair of authoritative scores. She defeated $4,000 rivals by 12 1/2 lengths on June 25, then came back July 19 to down $10,000 foes by 3 1/2 lengths, with 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.20.

Jazzy June Bug, a 4-year-old Slewdledo filly trained by Sharon Ross, also has two recent runaway wins to her credit. Jazzy June Bug graduated by 9 1/4 lengths over bottom-level maidens on May 4. After dropping a half-length decision to Sophie's Choice in her first try against winners, she came back June 28 to beat $12,500 company by 7 3/4 lengths, with six furlongs in 1:09.80.

Though Lil Squirt and Jazzy June Bug have keen speed, both have run well from off the pace and neither seems likely to insist on the lead. That might not be the case for Nancy Perkins, a key rival who appears to need the lead to succeed. Nancy Perkins, a 5-year-old daughter of Consigliere, scored her second win in gate-to-wire fashion over $25,000 claimers on June 8. She ran fifth when she failed to get to the front against $32,000 optional claimers on July 5 and will be dropping sharply off that effort.