06/16/2010 11:00PM

Zagreus looks due for win two


AUBURN, Wash. - Zagreus tops a field of nine older horses scheduled to compete Saturday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. Racing begins at 2 p.m. Pacific, and the main event, a 6 1/2-furlong, first-level allowance with a $25,000 optional claiming price, is the eighth of nine races.

Ron Crockett, president of Emerald Downs, owns Zagreus, a 4-year-old by Yonaguska from the productive broodmare Chasseur Dame. Zagreus is a sibling to eight runners, all winners, including three-time Emerald Downs stakes victor Marva Jean and current 3-year-old Salty Le Mousse, an impressive winner of his racing debut at Emerald on May 23.

But while Marva Jean and Salty Le Mousse are front-runners, Zagreus is a late-running sprinter with a knack for finishing second. He has 1 victory and 5 seconds in 10 career starts, including a runner-up finish behind Gallant Son in the 2008 Premio Esmeralda Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Limited to one start in 2009 because of injury, Zagreus returned from a one-year layoff to run third behind Noosa Beach, a two-time stakes winner in 2010, in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance April 18.

In his next start, Zagreus closed with a rush to finish second behind He's All Heart on May 7 and then missed by a neck to Taif on May 28. Overdue for his second victory, he figures to be one of the wagering favorites Saturday. Trainer Tom Wenzel has named Juan Gutierrez to ride.

Two horses returning from long layoffs could offer formidable challenges. Mulcahy, who won the Emerald Derby and two other stakes in 2007, has been absent from the races for nearly three years. Westsideclyde, a double stakes winner in 2007, has been away since June 2008. Both have worked steadily for their comeback.

Song of Pirates is another contender with injury-related gaps in his racing record. He won two stakes at Turf Paradise in 2007 but has started only nine times in the past three years. Trained by Mike Chambers, Song of Pirates finished third in an allowance race in his first start at the meeting May 23. He will be ridden by Anne Von Rosen.

Rounding out the field are Skyattic; recent maiden winner Dress Code; Snake Attack, who won a $25,000 claimer in his last start eight weeks ago; Ugottabcatty; and Noble Juan, a fast-improving 4-year-old who was fourth, two lengths behind the winner, under similar conditions May 28.