06/26/2005 12:00AM

Thirsty Guy's wins Tacoma


AUBURN, Wash. - California invader Thirsty Guy's won Sunday's Tacoma Handicap at Emerald Downs the hard way, surviving a grueling duel with Marsh Creek and then holding off the late charge of Datzig to prevail by a neck in 1:37.80 for a mile.

Thirsty Guy's, a California-bred son of Kahuna Jack, dueled head and head with March Creek through a fast six furlongs in 1:10.60, then opened a 1 1-2 lead with a furlong to go before digging in under rider Macario Rodriguez's urging to stave off Datzig, who got second by a neck over Confidential Call. The favored Norm's Nephew finished fourth in a field of eight.

Thirsty Guy's paid $8.20 to win as the second choice and earned $31,900 from a purse of $60,000 for owner Phil Oviedo, who also trains Thirsty Guy's in California. Thirsty Guy's was saddled by local trainer Mark Rheinford on Sunday, when he scored for the fourth time from 10 career starts.