07/30/2009 12:00AM

They'll have to catch Proud Nicholas


AUBURN, Wash. - Proud Nicholas tops a field of eight 3-year-olds Saturday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The card begins at 2 p.m., and the one-mile feature, a second-level allowance with a $32,000 optional claiming price, is the eighth race on the nine-race program.

Proud Nicholas has one win in five starts at the meeting; he ran six furlongs in 1:08.20 to win an allowance race by seven lengths in late May. Subsequently fifth in the one-mile Tacoma Handicap after pressing the pace, he finished a close fifth behind standout sprinter Siberian Cocktail in his most recent outing, a six-furlong $40,000 optional claimer July 11.

Trained by Doris Harwood for owner Frank Gaunt, Proud Nicholas will make his third start around two turns Saturday, and with no other front-runners in the race, jockey Saul Arias figures to put him on the lead from the outset.

Roy's Tops and Skyattic ran past Proud Nicholas in the final yards three weeks ago. Roy's Tops got up to be second after a wide trip, and Skyattic finished in a dead heat for third. Neither horse has attempted a route, though both are bred to appreciate the extra distance. Roy's Tops, who is trained by Vann Belvoir for Keith Swagerty's Swag Stables, will be ridden by Gallyn Mitchell. Skyattic is trained by Jim Penney for Gaylin and Richard Landeis. Troy Stillwell has the riding assignment.

Ricky Frazier, who rode Skyattic in each of his past four starts, will ride Whitney Bridge in Saturday's race. Trained by Larry Ross for Riverbend Stable, Whitney Bridge posted a half-length victory in a $15,000 claimer in his first route attempt three weeks ago, and then worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 last Friday, the fastest of 11 works at the distance. Whitney Bridge should be a pace factor under Frazier, who had 102 wins through the first 55 racing dates.

Late-runners Quinalt and Red Dancer could be prominent in the final furlong. Quinalt, who is trained by Carlos Moreno and will be ridden by Jose Contreras, finished second in the nine-furlong Oregon Derby at Portland Meadows in March, and most recently was second in a one-mile $32,000 optional claimer, with Red Dancer a length back in third. Red Dancer, who is trained by Penney, was making his first start against winners. Juan Gutierrez has the call Saturday.

Toss'm Again and Born'n Blue Genes complete the field.