09/21/2009 11:00PM

Trainer's race goes to the wire


AUBURN, Wash. - A $15,000 claiming sprint for older horses is the feature attraction Thursday as Emerald Downs begins the final week of its 2009 racing schedule. The $75,000 Gottstein Futurity, the track's traditional 2-year-old championship, is scheduled for Saturday, while claimers will take center stage Sunday on getaway day in the Stanislaw Ashbaugh Claiming Challenge.

While Ricky Frazier has secured his fourth Emerald riding title in the past six years and Longacres Mile winner Assessment has locked up horse-of-the-meeting honors, the battle for the training title figures to go down to the final days.

Tim McCanna, seeking his ninth Emerald title, has 58 wins heading into Thursday's card, and Doris Harwood, seeking her first, has 57.

McCanna, who entered two horses for Thursday, is Emerald's all-time leader in wins (702) and earnings ($6,350,859). Harwood, who also has two in Thursday, has saddled 347 winners at Emerald and topped the earnings standings the past two seasons. Her exploits this season include a record 20 victories in 2-year-old races and a record $889,129 in earnings, far surpassing Jim Penney's previous record of $793,760 set in 2005.

Harwood can add to her totals in the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity on Saturday, where she is expected to start two horses - Koala Beach and Movie Clip - capable of upsetting likely wagering favorite Hollywood Harbor, a three-time stakes winner at the meeting. Harwood won the 2007 Gottstein with the filly Smarty Deb and finished second last year with Noosa Beach.

Frazier has ridden 150 winners through 87 racing days and needs eight wins in the final four days to break his own record for victories in a season. He won 157 races in 2007, beating runner-up Leslie Mawing by an astounding 71 wins. Gallyn Mitchell, who has 107 wins, seems secure in second place ahead of Juan Gutierrez, who has 96 and is shooting for his first 100-win season at Emerald Downs.

In Thursday's feature race, Mitchell has the riding assignment on likely betting favorite Get You, a Penney-trained front-runner with two wins at the meeting. Frazier will ride another Penney horse, Follows None, a stalking-type sprinter who finished a close second at a mile in his last start.

Gutierrez has the call on Courting Seattle, who won three consecutive sprints in June and July. Courting Seattle will be making his second start for trainer Joe Toye, who claimed him for $10,000 in mid-August.