Updated on 09/15/2011 1:16PM

Two-level class jump won't hurt


AUBURN, Wash. - Better Than That, an impressive winner over $12,500 rivals in his seasonal debut on May 3, will attempt to repeat on the $20,000 claiming level when he meets seven other older sprinters in Friday's 6 1/2-furlong feature at Emerald Downs.

Despite the double jump in class, Better Than That appears to be the one to beat off his recent performance. A 4-year-old trained by Jim Penney, he came from fourth position to win going away in a sparkling 1:09.80 for six furlongs. It was the third win from four career starts for Better Than That, who has yet to be favored. That may change on Friday, when Better Than That will be ridden by Nate Chaves at 119 pounds, the weight to be carried by all eight entrants.

The only other entrant coming off a win is Knight Invasion, who beat $12,500 nonwinners-of-two company with six furlongs in 1:10.60 on May 12. The move into open company, combined with the double jump in class, would seem to pose formidable obstacles to Knight Invasion, who was claimed out of his recent victory by trainer Donny Smith. Knight Invasion has early speed, however, and should be able to use that asset to his advantage in a field without a true front-runner.

The projected moderate pace could hurt another contender, Caller Pete. Trained by Tom Wenzel, he is coming off a solid third-place finish against $25,000 company in his seasonal debut on April 28 and would seem to be sitting on a strong effort. Caller Pete comes from far back, however, and might need at least a contested pace, if not a fast pace, to be along in time.