05/08/2007 11:00PM

Suspicious drop by Potrero Station

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AUBURN, Wash. - A full field of 12 older sprinters will meet in Friday's Emerald Downs feature, a 6 1/2-furlong race for $20,000 claimers.

Favoritism is up for grabs, but handicappers will want to take a long look at Potrero Station. A 4-year-old son of Cape Town from the barn of trainer Janet Armstrong, Potrero Station was a stakes winner last year at Hastings and appears to be the speed of Friday's field. He is taking a surprising drop in class for his seasonal debut, however, and all has not gone smoothly in his training this year.

Potrero Station was entered in a $25,000 optional claiming race here on April 29, but was scratched from that race and later turned up on the vet's list as sick. He returned to work five furlongs in a rapid 59.80 seconds on May 6, and will have the services of leading rider Juan Gutierrez on Friday.

Among those expected to give Potrero Station a thorough testing is My Friend Dave. A 7-year-old trained by Corky Caron, My Friend Dave is a stakes winner who impressed in two starts here last season. He finished second to Salt Grinder in a six-furlong optional claimer, then finished a close fourth behind Longacres Mile contestant Confidential Call in a one-mile optional claimer.

My Friend Dave raced last winter at Portland Meadows, where he finished second in a 1 1/16-mile overnight handicap last time out on March 19, and he may retain enough residual fitness to have a conditioning edge over rivals who will be making their first start in 2007.