Kentucky Derby picks from Emerald Downs | Horse Racing

Cat On Base, heading for the winner
Cat On Base, heading for the winner's circle April 29, is rocketing up the charts at Emerald Downs.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs

We offer no disclaimers, and please use the following information at your own risk! Nevertheless, your intrepid reporters stomped the grounds at Emerald Downs and compiled a list of selections for Saturday’s 138th Run for the Roses. Post time is 3:24 p.m. (PDT)

Nick Rousso (Daily Racing Form): Bodemeister “When I watched the Arkansas Derby, I was just awe-struck by how fast he was. This horse could be really special.”

Bonnie Jenne (Trainer): Creative Cause “I’m taking Mike (Harrington’s) horse because we’ve been friends a long time.”

Vince Gibson (Trainer): Union Rags “I listen to (Steve Byk’s) talk show, and it sounds like he’s been training pretty good.’

Vito Lucarelli (Jockeys Agent): Dullahan “I just think he’s a good horse. I thought his last race (in the Bluegrass Stakes) was very impressive.”

Kim Wales (Trainer): Bodemeister “He won the Arkansas Derby, and he’s named after (trainer Bob) Baffert’s son, so it’d be cool to see him win.”

Dino Apostolou (Trainer): Dullahan “I’m afraid there will be a lot of speed, so I looked for the best closer. I also thought he won the Bluegrass with something left in the tank.”

Leonel Camacho-Flores (Jockey): Dullahan “He’s a good horse, and I like horses that come from off the pace.”

David Singer (Jockeys Agent): I’ll Have Another “I liked the way he stalked the pace last time (in the Santa Anita Derby). He had dead-aim on the leaders the whole way.”

Jorge Rosales (Jockey): Daddy Nose Best “He looks like he’s been working good, and he has (jockey) Garrett Gomez on him.”

Keith Drebin (Jockeys Agent): Alpha “He looks like he’s coming up to a good race. He’s the kind of horse you can put anywhere in a race.”

Howard Belvoir (Trainer): Union Rags “He’s got the ideal setup. He can lay right off the pace.’

Blaine Wright (Trainer): Union Rags “Union Rags has been my pick all along. He was the best 2-year-old last year, and he can handle any distance.”

David Alvarado (Jockeys Agent): Creative Cause “He’s a great horse. Mike Harrington is a good trainer and nice person, too.”

Gary Dougherty (Emerald Downs Handicapper): Union Rags “He exits a troubled trip and the clockers have been raving about his workouts.”

Vic Cozzetti ( Bodemeister “I’ve been watching him since he broke his maiden. He kept impressing me more and more.”

Rob Rao (EmD Morning Line): Union Rags “I think he’s the best horse in the race. He’s been training well, and he’s a consistent horse.”

Cy Labar (Technical Services Supervisor): Bodemeister “I chose Bodemeister because of the way he crushed the field in the Arkansas Derby. I think he’ll be the speed all the way.”

Robert Geller (EmD Track Announcer): Gemologist “I like his sire Tiznow, and just when you think (Gemologist) is beaten, he comes right back. Let’s hope an undefeated horse wins the Derby!”

Joe Withee (Publicity Director): Went the Day Well “He’s imposing physically, and he should be finishing well at the longer distance. I really like his sire Proud Citizen.”

Lance Williams (Racing Manager, Ron Crockett Inc.): Creative Cause “I like his style for a 1-¼ miles. He’s a bit of a grinder, which is good for that distance. He also has a good foundation under him.”

Ron Crockett (EmD President): Sabercat “I have a (Kentucky Derby) Futures bet on him.”

Frank Lucarelli (Trainer): Union Rags “He’s never really run a bad race, and I hear he’s been training pretty good in Kentucky.”

David Yoshino (Handicapper/Owner): Daddy Long Legs.

Sally Steiner (Quarter Chute Café): Daddy Long Legs.

Alas your humble correspondents simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to offer up our picks*

Jacob Pollowitz (Media Writer): Gemologist “He’s won twice at Churchill Downs, he’ll break from the favorable post No.15, he has tactical speed and his connections won this race two years ago with Super Saver.”

Vince Bruun (Director of Media Relations): Creative Cause “I like the way he battled in the Santa Anita Derby, and the fact that he’s bred to get 10 furlongs. And best of all, he's 12-to-1!

Consensus: Union Rags (6), Bodemeister (4), Creative Cause (4)


Rising Star Stable V’s Cat On Base was given a career-high 91 Beyer Speed Figure for his 3-¼-length victory Sunday, in which the 5-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding ran six furlongs in 1:08.21. It was slightly higher than the 90 (upgraded from an original 89) that Cat On Base earned for his 1:01.37 clocking for 5-½ furlongs on April 14. Trained by Howard Belvoir and ridden by Jennifer Whitaker, Cat On Base is one of only two double winners at the nine-day-old meeting (Allison Ridge is the other).

The way things are going, the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap on Sunday, May 20 might well be subtitled the “Harbor the Gold Handicap”, as Cat On Base, 5-year-old Hollywood Harbor and 6-year-old two-time Horse of the Meeting Noosa Beach*all gelded sons of Harbor the Gold*are on course for a Governor’s showdown. At 6-½ furlongs, the Governor’s Handicap is first stop on the road to the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, Aug. 19.

In other developments from the Longacres Mile division:

· Noosa Beach worked five furlongs in :59-4/5 (B) on a sloppy track Thursday morning for trainer Doris Harwood. It was his eighth workout and third at five furlongs.

· Aaron the Baron, Noosa Beach’s stablemate, was timed in :59-3/5 (B) for five furlongs Thursday. Aaron the Baron comes off a good second to Hollywood Harbor on April 22, and also is being pointed to the Governor’s Handicap.

· Winning Machine, back from Hastings Racecourse where he finished a close fourth in the George Royal Handicap, breezed a half-mile in :49-2/5 Monday on a sloppy track for trainer Frank Lucarelli.

· Zayda breezed four furlongs in :51-1/5 Monday for trainer Blaine Wright, but owner Heidi Nelson said the stretch-running 4-year-old Bluegrass Cat colt probably won’t see action until the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap at one mile on Sunday, June 17. Nelson also has a talented runner in 3-year-old D’honorable One, a D’wildcat colt who earned an 87 Beyer while drilling allowance runners by 6-¼ lengths in 1:08.54 Sunday.

· Another 4-year-old, the Jim Penney-trained Jebrica, breezed four furlongs in :49-2/5 Sunday morning. A Washington-bred by Liberty Gold, Zayda beat Jebrica in two-of-three head-to-head match-ups last year, but Jebrica won the big one*winning the Emerald Derby by 2-¾-lengths while Zayda lumbered home fourth*and was voted Top 3-Year-Old Male.

· Hudson Landing, half-length winner of last Saturday’s $150,000 San Francisco Mile (G2) on the turf, will remain at Golden Gate Fields for the $100,000 Berkeley Stakes (G3) on Monday, May 28, according to Wright, who appears to have a pair of Mile hopefuls in Zayda and Hudson Landing. The Enumclaw conditioner said a return to dirt for the Longacres Mile is still an option for Hudson Landing. “Obviously it’s on our radar,” Wright said. “It’s very likely that he could be in The Mile.”

· Lucarelli also has several hopefuls in Winning Machine, Posse Power and Gallant Son. The latter came back great after his third-place finish to Hudson Landing in the San Francisco Mile, and Lucarelli said the 6-year-old a would likely run in another turf event at Golden Gate before shipping north. As for Posse Power, the 2011 Longacres Mile third-place finisher is ready to resume training and is expected to make at least two starts at before taking another shot at The Mile.

· Sunday’s feature at Hastings Racecourse is the $50,000 John Longden 6000 for 3-year-olds and up at 6-½ furlongs. The field from the rail out: Silly Fella, Senor Rojo, Jump Up and Kissme, Three Wood, Dollarwaitnonadime, Quintons Destiny, Taylor Said, Crew Leader, City Trooper, Northern Causeway and St Liams Halo.

· 2011 Longacres Mile winner Awesome Gem is among nine horses entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap (G2) at 1-1/16 miles on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. With $2,761,370 in earnings, the 9-year-old gelding is North America’s leading active earner. The Leroy also features millionaires Prayer for Relief and Morning Line, with the latter making his West Coast debut for John Shirreffs after compiling a long list of achievements for Nick Zito in the East. The 5-year-old Tiznow horse won last year’s Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, and is best remembered for a head defeat to Dakota Phone in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

NOTES: Week 3 honors: Jockey-Leonel Camacho-Flores (13-4-3-1); Trainer-Don Munger (5-4-0-0); Owner-MOH Stable, Inc. (Dan Lewis); Groom-Rene Martinez (Howard Belvoir)*Goggles McCoy, winner of the 2010 Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar, worked three furlongs in :38-1/5 on a sloppy track Monday for trainer Frank Lucarelli. The 5-year-old In Excess gelding is 7-for-15 lifetime with earnings of $226,144*Stakes-placed Café Tortoni is on the comeback trail for trainer Jim Penney. The 7-year-old BC-bred gelding, 3-of-9 with earnings of $101,395, has had three workouts this spring including four furlongs in :52 handily on a wet-fast track Wednesday*Playful Argument, runner-up to Class Included in the 2011 Washington Oaks, has compiled six workouts this spring for Blaine Wright, including five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 handily Monday on a sloppy track. Playful Argument won her only start this year, a 5-½-furlong starter allowance for fillies and mares Jan. 13 at Golden Gate Fields*Fabulous Fridays begin this week! Paid admissions this Friday only (beginning 9 a.m.) receive free T-Shirts good for one free admission at all 20 remaining Fridays during the 2012 season*Special first post time is 1 p.m. this Saturday only on Kentucky Derby Day. The local feature is a $20,000/$18,000 claiming race for fillies and mares at six furlongs with a $14,100 purse. Perfect Pie and Wave Rider, both coming off gate-to-wire victories, head a field that includes Feeling Fancy, Lilly’s a Jewel and Redseasalt*Sunday’s 10-race card features $20,000/$18,000 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. The race features a rematch of Showme Yourfriends, Rainier Missile, Avalon Beach and Frenzo*first, second, third and fifth at the same condition April 22, along with new shooter Ugottabcatty from the H.R. Mullens stable*Friday, a special $2 Daily Double will be offered on the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby, a wager that has had a $237.40 median payoff since 2000*Nominations close Saturday for the $50,000 Hastings Handicap on May 13. At six furlongs for older fillies and mares, the Hastings is the first of 30 stakes to be run at the 2012 meeting worth an aggregate $1,575,000*A memorial service for trainer Bud Klokstad is scheduled for 12 p.m., Wednesday, May 9 in the Emerald Room on the 4th floor at Emerald Downs. A member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, Klokstad, died March 29 at age 79*Also, a service for Longacres Mile-winning trainer Shauna Ferguson is set for 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 7, at Keenbridge Farm in Langley, British Columbia. Ferguson, who was 58, died in a riding accident April 9*David Alvarado, a groom and assistant trainer the last several years at Emerald Downs, has taken out his license as a jockeys’ agent and is booking mounts for journeyman Jorge Rosales and apprentice Maria Rossak*Amazing Legacy makes his first claiming start in the second race Saturday. The 4-year-old colt, by Cahill Road-Irish Toast, is a full brother to Longacres Mile winner The Great Face and a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Atta Boy Roy*Les Bois Park in Boise began its 2012 season Wednesday with a nine-race card composed of seven Thoroughbred and two Quarter Horse races. The 36-day Les Bois meet runs through Saturday, Aug. 11. Incidentally, Joe Crispin and Robert Burney each rode a winner opening night at Boise*Turf Paradise, meanwhile, concludes its 157-day winter/spring meeting Sunday with its traditional closing day feature*the $35,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap at 1-7/8 miles on turf. Northern Indy, third to Zayda and Couldabenthewhisky in the 2011 Seattle Slew Handicap at Emerald Downs, is among nine 3-year-olds and up entered in the 15-furlong marathon*Saturday’s feature at Hastings Racecourse is the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province for 3-year-olds at 6-½ furlongs. Swift Thoroughbreds With Council, winner of the 2011 Ascot Graduation, heads a field of seven that includes Time Goes On, a Bandini colt trained by Dino Condilenios that finished first and second in two starts this spring at Hawthorne in Chicago*Frank Gaunt’s Stormy Lucy will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze in Sunday’s $75,000 Golden Poppy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf at Golden Gate. After the Golden Poppy, trainer Frank Lucarelli said the Stormy Atlantic filly is likely to ship to Emerald Downs*Former jockey Hugh Wales, eighth all-time with 574 wins at Longacres, will pinch-hit for Clerk of Scales Dan Bryson on Saturday’s nine-race card. Wales, whose wife Kim Wales trains at Emerald Downs, also will be the Clerk of Scales at the nine-day Grants Pass meeting that runs June 16-July 8.

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