05/23/2010 11:00PM

Successful invasion for Posse Power

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AUBURN, Wash. - After a strong campaign in Northern California over the winter, Posse Power made the most of his Emerald Downs debut Sunday, rallying from off the pace to win the $50,000 Auburn Handicap for 3-year-olds.

The second choice in the wagering in a field of five, Posse Power ($5.60) ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a wet-fast track in 1:15 to beat Saratoga Boot by 1 3/4 lengths. Clear to Canada was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third, followed by Seven Torrents. Forener, undefeated in three previous starts and the 9-10 wagering favorite, finished last after setting a disputed pace.

Posse Power won for the third time in eight starts. The $27,500 winner's share increased his lifetime earnings to $95,940 for owner and breeder Claire Lein of Fall City, Wash. Frank Lucarelli trains Posse Power, and Francisco Duran was aboard, one of five wins for Duran on Sunday.

After winning a six-furlong maiden race at Golden Gate in January, Posse Power captured a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles in his first start against winners, and then ran a troubled third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at nine furlongs. Outrun in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in his last start, he had no problem handling the turn back to a sprint distance in his first start on dirt.

"I had plenty of horse going into the stretch, and I felt like I had enough horse that I could be a little more patient," Duran said. "I knew I had won the race at the sixteenth pole, but I asked him a little bit at the end, just to be on the safe side. He's a classy horse, and the classy ones know where the wire is. He knows he did a good job today."

Forener dueled with Seven Torrents through splits of 22 and 44.60 seconds before fading.

"Forener seemed like he handled the track well; he seemed sharper than usual," jockey Gallyn Mitchell said. "At the three-eighths pole, he just felt like he was done for some reason. I think it was more mental than physical because in the stretch, he got back into the bit and started running again. He's still got some maturing to do. I can't take away anything away from the rest of the field; they're good horses."

Lucarelli said Posse Power likely would race next in the one-mile, $50,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap on June 27.