04/23/2002 12:00AM

Speedsters abound


AUBURN, Wash. - A surfeit of speed characterizes Thursday's featured seventh race at Emerald Downs, a 5 1/2-furlong affair for older $16,000 claimers.

Of the seven entrants, five do their best running on the lead. That seems certain to ensure a hot pace for the two who come from off the pace, Rambling Pete and On El Bon.

Rambling Pete, a 4-year-old son of Petersburg who races for Tim and Sue Spooner, is a versatile sort who can be placed anywhere his rider desires. He came from second and sixth to post his two wins here last season.

Trainer Dan Markle got a useful prep race into the gelding on April 3 at Bay Meadows, and he should be ready to deliver a peak effort for current leading rider Kevin Radke on Thursday.

On El Bon always comes from well off the pace. That style earned him a pair of wins last season and should serve him well in the feature.

Owned by Art McFadden, On El Bon will be making his 4-year-old debut on Thursday after posting a string of fast works for trainer Bud Klokstad, who has named defending riding champ Ben Russell to ride.

All of the speedsters in the field have demonstrated an ability to hold on after dueling for the lead, but Capable of Passion seems most likely to do so based on his favorable outside post position and his knack for winning.

Capable of Passion, a 5-year-old trained by Dan Kenney, boasts a career mark of five wins from 10 starts. He won his first four starts over this track last season.

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