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Exclusive Diva wins the $50,000 Seattle Handicap | Emerald Downs
Exclusive Diva took the early lead and poured it on late for an 8-½-length victory Sunday in the $50,000 Seattle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs.
Ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 118 lbs, Exclusive Diva ran 6*½ furlongs in 1:14.58 and paid $9, $4.60 and $3.20. The winning time tied the stakes record of 1:14-2/5 set by Youcant’takeme in 2003. Owned and bred by Jerre Paxton’s Northwest Farms and trained by Tom Wenzel, Exclusive Diva has a 3-0-1 record with earnings of $70,605, including $27,500 for Sunday’s victory.
Exclusive Diva rocketed to the lead from the No. 3 post-position, set fractions of :22.82 and :45.66, shook off Lady Hokulea while opening a four-length lead into the lane, and then widened the gap to win with complete authority.
Royal Moses, the 8-to-5 betting favorite ridden by Joe Crispin at 120 lbs, overcame a troubled trip to finish second and paid $3.20 and $2.10.
Lady Hokulea, ridden by Leonel Camacho-Flores, held third and paid $3.40 to show. Muchas Coronas, Talk to My Lawyer, Sweet Saga, Reliable Ema and Mattie Blue completed the order of finish.
A Kentucky-bred by Bernardini-Puxa Saco, Exclusive Diva is still unbeaten around one turn including stakes triumphs in the Seattle Handicap and last year’s Angie C Stakes. Her only loss was a third-place finish in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes last August.
Gutierrez, riding his second stakes winner in as many weeks, said things went just as they were drawn up.
“The plan was to go to the front and try to get her to relax,” Gutierrez said. “I felt a little pressure from Lady Hokulea, but at the quarter-pole, my horse took another gear. I didn’t think she’d do it so easily for being such a little horse. She proved she was much the best.”
Crispin said Royal Moses should improve as distances get longer, perhaps in the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap at one mile on Sunday, June 24.
“She ducked out really bad at the start, so I just dropped her down to the rail and let her save ground,” Crispin said. “She was weaving through traffic, but we had to go five-wide around the turn, so it cost us a little bit.
“If they would’ve pushed the leader a little more, I think I would’ve caught her. At this point, with the way (Royal Moses) closes, I think she’ll be wonderful going two turns. She’ll be tough to beat this year.”
NOTES: Go With Gusto ($4) became the meet’s second three-time winner with a neck victory over Rocky’s Quest in the seventh race. Ridden by Joe Crispin for trainer Roy Lumm and owner Get Lucky Stable, Go With Gusto ran one mile in 1:35, and the 7-year-old New York-bred is now 9-for-21 at Emerald Downs with earnings of $72,829*Tim McCanna saddled two more winners to give him five wins in two days, and he’s within shouting distance of Howard Belvoir and Frank Lucarelli atop the trainers’ standings. Through 21 days, Belvoir leads with 15 wins, followed by Lucarelli with 13 wins and McCanna with 11*One of McCanna’s winner Sunday was the 5-year-old mare Cahill Cutie ($7) who came off a 23-month break to get the victory under apprentice Eliska Kubinova*Kubinova rode three winners on the nine-race program*already her third three-win day of the meet*and is tied for second place with Crispin at 21 wins apiece. Juan Gutierrez is first in wins with 22, and has ridden two of the first three stakes winners at the meet*In addition to Cahill Cutie, Kubinova rode home a pair of long shots*Pete’s Glory Girl at 10-to-1 in the fifth and Stellar Blue at 22-to-1 in the finale*Stellar Blue’s $46.40 triumph helped trigger a $0.50 Pick 5 Carryover of $5,879 to Monday*The Memorial Day Pick 5 begins with Race 5 at 4:22 pm*First post Monday is 2:15 pm, and the first 4,000 paid admission fans will receive free Emerald Downs wallets including one lucky one with $1,000 cash.