07/14/2003 11:00PM

'Style' tries mile against five claimers


AUBURN, Wash. - Six older horses, each eligible to be claimed for $14,000 to $16,000, match strides in Thursday's one-mile feature at Emerald Downs.

Though a case can be made for each of the half-dozen entrants, Natural Style may have an edge in form after posting a third, a win, and a second in three starts, against slightly lesser company, at the meeting. Natural Style, a 6-year-old son of Valiant Nature from the barn of Terry Gillihan, will be stretching out for the first time this year. In his only prior mile try on the dirt, Natural Style ran third to the formidable Old Mizzou in an allowance race in April 2002 at Bay Meadows.

Natural Style should be difficult to deny with a similar effort on Thursday, when he will have leading jockey Kevin Radke aboard and will carry 119 pounds.

Indian Avenue offers a tempting alternative, as he was visually impressive in his seasonal debut against $8,000 rivals here June 29. Indian Avenue, a 5-year-old son of Avenue of Flags, finished with a rush to get second behind the loose-on-the-lead Handsome Will Do, who won by two lengths after a mile in a rapid 1:35.80. Indian Avenue earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 80 in that race and should prove competitive if he can avoid a regression in his second start off the bench. Trainer Joe Toye has given Nate Chaves the call at 117 pounds.

Rounding out the lineup are Point Blank, a four-time winner at the one-mile distance; Bucko Wins, a beaten favorite last time against similar; Bryanzole, who will be dropping from the $20,000 level; and Star of Elttaes, the apparent speed of the field.