04/18/2008 12:00AM

These two look fresh and fast


AUBURN, Wash. - A Touch of Malice will make his 4-year-old debut in Sunday's Emerald Downs feature, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for $25,000 claimers, and he doesn't figure to be in need of an outing.

A Touch of Malice, a son of Tribunal from the barn of trainer Howard Belvoir, has made a habit of firing first time out. He won his 2-year-old debut by 10 1/2 lengths over $12,500 maidens, and he came back last year to win his 3-year-old bow by 5 1/4 lengths over $50,000 optional claiming company. Those were A Touch of Malice's only wins from seven career starts, so bettors might be well advised to catch him while he is fresh.

A Touch of Malice has worked steadily and well throughout the spring, posting a best-of-52 half-mile drill in 46.20 on March 25 and a best-of-24 five-furlong work in 58.60 on March 31. Jennifer Whitaker, who has ridden A Touch of Malice in all of his races, will again have the mount at 120 pounds.

The front-running A Touch of Malice could receive early pressure from Mazel Power, who also has a history of running well off the bench. Mazel Power, a 6-year-old trained by Robbie Baze, graduated in his first start as a 3-year-old in 2005, defeating $25,000 maidens by four lengths. He was second in his initial start at Emerald Downs in 2006, and he finished third, beaten only a half-length by $7,500 claimers, in his first try here last year. Mazel Power registered a best-of-19 half-mile drill in 46.40 March 26, and he will be ridden by defending riding champ Ricky Frazier at 120.