06/05/2009 12:00AM

Stiff challenge for Clair Annette


AUBURN, Wash. - Now comes the hard part for Clair Annette. After six consecutive front-running victories, the fastest female at Emerald Downs will face one of the quickest fillies in America in the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes on Sunday afternoon.

The new challenger to Clair Annette is High Resolve, a 4-year-old filly with stakes victories in Arizona, California, and Florida. High Resolve defeated a classy field of 12 in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park in late January, and most recently was third, beaten by less than two lengths, as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita in early April.

Northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist had been looking for a suitable stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder in early July. When his preferred option at Golden Gate failed to fill, he looked north to Emerald Downs. Gilchrist has a perfect record when shipping horses here, winning the 1998 Longacres Mile with Wild Wonder and the 2008 WSL Stakes with Victorina.

"We looked for a race, and this was one of the best options for us," Gilchrist said of his plans for High Resolve, who has won 7 of 11 starts and $438,270 for the estate of Harry Aleo.

She will pose a tall challenge for Clair Annette, a former claimer with limited stakes experience. Trained by Connie Bouslaugh for owner Nina Egbert, Clair Annette finished last in her first stakes, which came at Turf Paradise in 2007, and didn't try again until three weeks ago, when she blitzed six rivals in the Hastings Park Handicap. Clair Annette ran six furlongs in 1:08.60 while drawing away to win by 4 3/4 lengths, easily taking the measure of the best fillies and mares on the grounds. High Resolve is a different ballgame.

"She's not worried about it," Bouslaugh said of Clair Annette. "She's going to run her race. It won't be any discredit to her to be outrun by that filly, and if we outrun her, 'Yoo-hoo.' I'm glad she's here because we have another challenge. So far, she's answered every one we've given her."

The other entrants in the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators are Elusive Horizon, second behind Clair Annette in her first two starts at the meeting; Gadget Queen, winner of the nine-furlong Belle Roberts at Emerald Downs last summer; and Judicature, a two-time stakes winner at 2 in 2006.