07/01/2008 12:00AM

Two taking same drop appear iffy


AUBURN, Wash. - Golden Pine and Hit a Star, both former stakes winners at Emerald Downs, will drop to the $20,000 claiming level to contest Thursday's 6 1/2-furlong feature for fillies and mares.

Thursday's nine-race card will feature a special 5 p.m. first post to accommodate the track's annual fireworks spectacular.

Golden Pine, a 6-year-old from the barn of trainer Tom Wenzel, won the John and Kitty Fletcher Stakes at a mile as a 3-year-old. She was second, beaten just a neck, in a six-furlong race for $40,000 optional claimers just two races back on May 17. In her last start, on June 8, Golden Pine chased the pace while racing wide and tired badly, finishing more than 20 lengths behind in the one-mile race for $50,000 optional claimers. Thursday's big class drop will have bettors and rival horsemen wondering whether Golden Pine is going the wrong way, or if her connections are taking an edge.

Hit a Star is taking the same drop as Golden Pine, as she finished 22 lengths behind the victorious Firetrail in the June 8 race for $50,000 optional claimers. Hit a Star, a 6-year-old trained by Craig Roberts, won four races here last season, including the Belle Roberts Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. She has tired badly after contesting the pace in all three starts this year.

Lady Yodeler, a Jim Penney-trained 4-year-old, presents fewer questions than the two class-droppers. She won her last start on June 5 going 6 1/2 furlongs against $20,000 claimers.