05/14/2009 11:00PM

Top fillies going at it again


AUBURN, Wash. - Elusive Horizon and Enumclaw Girl are the horses to beat - and Clair Annette is the one to catch - at Emerald Downs on Sunday in the $30,000 Hastings Park Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs. The 10-race card begins at 2 p.m.

Emerald's top 3-year-old fillies in 2008, Elusive Horizon and Enumclaw Girl combined to win four stakes races and $183,987 in purses last summer. Elusive Horizon won the Washington Lottery Handicap and the Washington Oaks, both around two turns, and finished the meeting with three consecutive victories. Enumclaw Girl captured the U.S. Bank Stakes at six furlongs and the Irish Day Handicap at a mile.

Both seem poised for big things in 2009. Elusive Horizon is a leading candidate for the 1 1/8-mile, $100,000 Washington Distaff in mid-August, the Northwest's richest race for fillies and mares. Undefeated around two turns, this Doris Harwood trainee is an accomplished sprinter as well. She dominated a first-level allowance in her final sprint effort last summer, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.40, and was a sharp second behind Clair Annette in her 2009 debut going 5 1/2 furlongs. Elusive Horizon got the winner's check for owner Jerre Paxton that day when Clair Annette was disqualified for causing interference at the start. Juan Gutierrez, aboard for all of Elusive Horizon's starts last summer, has the call again Sunday.

Enumclaw Girl exits the same race as Elusive Horizon. A game fourth while racing between horses in the stretch, she was moved up to third when Clair Annette was taken down. Trained by Rosie Simpkins for owner Doris Konecny, Enumclaw Girl has never been worse than third in seven starts. Regular rider Gallyn Mitchell will be up Sunday.

Clair Annette was a revelation in 2008 en route to claimer of the meeting honors. After finishing a well-beaten fifth from a stalking position in her season debut last year, she rattled off four consecutive front-running victories while posting successively higher Beyer Speed Ratings in each. The capper was the Beyer Figure of 105 she earned while zipping six furlongs in 1:09.20 in her final start. Freshened over the winter by trainer Connie Bouslaugh, Clair Annette came back running in her season debut and is the one they will have to catch Sunday. The 6-year-old mare will be ridden by Joe Crispin.