09/09/2010 2:18PM

Talented juveniles get spotlight

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AUBURN, Wash. – With the Emerald Downs meeting winding down, some promising 2-year-olds will try to get a jump on 2011 in Saturday’s fifth race, a $40,000 maiden claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs. Though not technically the feature race, it boasts the card’s highest purse ($15,000) and most talented runners, a few of which seem destined for stakes when they return as 3-year-olds next spring.

Rezar, a runner-up in his past two starts, is the probable favorite in a seven-horse field. He chased the speedy Hayjax from start to finish Aug. 14 and then rallied to finish second behind Jebrica after an awkward beginning in his last outing two weeks ago. Like several of his rivals, Rezar is bred to be a good one; he’s by Songandaprayer from a Wavering Monarch mare and sold for $55,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. His current owners, Nelson Family Racing, purchased him for $24,000 at a sale of 2-year-olds in training and turned him over to Emerald-based trainer Vann Belvoir. Rezar will have a new rider Saturday, with Gallyn Mitchell replacing apprentice Pedro Terrero.

Good Knight Matty might be the speed of the race. His only two siblings, Oneknightledo and Knight Raider, are avowed front-runners, and Good Knight Matty demonstrated a quick turn of foot in his last start, leading into the final yards before yielding to finish second in a $30,000 maiden claimer. He was claimed out of the race by Paul and Lori Heist, whose last big-ticket claim, Flamethrowintexan, went on to win the 2006 Longacres Mile. Leading rider Ricky Frazier has the call on Good Knight Matty for trainer Jim Penney.

First-time starter Madoff With It All also has a license to be a runner. By Cahill Road from the Danzatore mare Danza Regio, he’s a half-brother to Firetrail, a multiple stakes winner whose career ended after 14 starts when she broke down at Golden Gate Fields in 2008. Chris Stenslie trains Madoff With It All for owner Jody Peetz, who bought him for $26,000 at the 2009 Washington summer yearling sale. Troy Stillwell has the riding assignment.

Stenslie also will send out Slim Pickins, a colt by Giacomo from the Emerald Downs stakes-placed mare Time for Magic and a half-brother to the $80,000 sales topper at Tuesday’s 2010 Washington summer sale. Slim Pickins, a homebred for owner Ken Miles, finished third behind Hayjax and Rezar in his only previous start. He’ll be ridden by Deborah Hoonan-Trujillo.