07/29/2009 12:00AM

Strawberry Topper looks speediest


AUBURN, Wash. - Strawberry Topper looms the one to beat Friday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The sixth race on an eight-race program that begins at 6 p.m., the feature is an open $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.

A winner against allowance foes at the meeting, Strawberry Topper appears to own the controlling speed in the field of six. He has been first or second at the half-mile call in every start since breaking slowly in his career debut last June, and he was resolute on the front end in his most recent outing, when he dueled with winner Siberian Cocktail through 21.80- and 44.80-second fractions in a $40,000 optional claimer at six furlongs. Trained by Dan Markle for owners Sue and Tim Spooner, Strawberry Topper will break from the outside post position under Seth Martinez.

Enumerator, who drew the rail and leading rider Ricky Frazier, figures to attract a lot of support in the wagering. A stakes winner at 2, when he captured the restricted Strong Ruler Stakes for owner Herman Sarkowsky, Enumerator has improved steadily in three starts at 3. He was fifth, only a half-length behind the winner, in a $32,000 optional claiming sprint in his most recent start June 21. Doris Harwood trains Enumerator, who figures to track Strawberry Topper before making a concerted bid on the turn.

R Samurai, a promising $60,000 yearling purchase trained by Jim Penney, also figures to be running late. Though he was well beaten going a mile in his last start, R Samurai has put forth two strong sprint efforts at the meeting, finishing just ahead of Enumerator when they last met June 21. Juan Gutierrez has the riding assignment.

If Strawberry Topper tires from his early efforts, the race could set up for Slewdleview, a late-runner who has finished second twice and third four times in six starts at the meeting. Stepping up in class for trainer Vann Belvoir, who has two horses in Friday's race, Slewdleview will have a new rider, with Javier Matias taking over for Gallyn Mitchell. Mitchell will ride Belvoir's other entry, Eighty Eight, a two-time winner last summer who is winless in five starts in 2009. Eighty Eight finished third behind Strawberry Topper in an allowance race May 9.

Three Agree completes the field. Trained by Chris Stenslie and ridden by Jose Zunino, he finished second for $15,000 in his last start after forging to the front at the top of the stretch. He has one career victory, in a $17,500 maiden claimer in late May.