07/14/2010 5:28PM

Westsideclyde still plugging along


AUBURN, Wash. – Westsideclyde, a two-time stakes winner during an injury-wracked career, headlines the feature race Saturday at Emerald Downs. A first-level allowance with a $25,000 optional claiming price, it’s the eighth of nine races on a program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Though he’s halfway into his 8-year-old season, Westsideclyde has started just 15 times since making his 2-year-old debut back in 2004. He has had layoffs spanning 18 months, seven months, 11 months, and most recently, 24 months, missing entire seasons in 2005 and 2009. He injured an ankle in June 2008 and finally made it back to the races three weeks ago, flashing his customary speed before tiring to finish third in a spot quite similar to the one he encounters Saturday.

Owners Linda Elledge and Jim Riedinger have had Westsideclyde from the beginning. He was trained by Craig Roberts, who died last year, and now is in the hands of Martin Pimentel, Roberts’ former assistant. Westsideclyde’s career highlights include victories in the 2007 FOX Sports Net Handicap (6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.40) and the 2007 Bud Emerald Handicap (one mile in 1:34.20), along with a 2006 allowance victory (six furlongs in 1:08.20) that yielded a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

Pimentel had Westsideclyde ready to pop in his first outing at the current meeting. He set a pressured pace through a 44.40-second half-mile on a sloppy track and stayed in the picture until the final 100 yards going 6 1/2-furlongs. With that one out of the way, he could reach the winner’s circle for the first time in more than three years. Ricky Frazier, Emerald Downs’ leading jockey, has the call.

Trainer Jim Penney will send out two top challengers, both 4-year-olds. Skyattic, a quarter-length behind Westsideclyde in his last outing, seems to be sitting on a peak effort in his third start at the meeting. Snake Attack, victorious in 6 of 17 starts, could improve in his second outing following a two-month layoff. Apprentice Pedro Terrero will ride Skyattic, while Francisco Duran has the assignment on Snake Attack.

If a fast pace develops as expected, late-runners Noble Juan and Zagreus could figure into the mix. Noble Juan raced to an impressive maiden victory in his first 2010 start but has run fourth and seventh in two subsequent starts against winners for trainer Greg Moore. Zagreus, trained by Tom Wenzel, has been a fast-closing second in two of four starts at the meeting.