City Twister and D’honorable to battle in Auburn $50,000 Auburn Handicap | Emerald Downs

Arguably the two most visually impressive winners at the meeting thus far, both City Twister and D’honorable will be out to prove who’s the better 3-year-old on Sunday in the $50,000 Auburn Handicap for sophomore colts and geldings running 6-½ furlongs.

The Auburn Handicap is the division’s only sprint stakes and first stop en route to the $65,000 Emerald Derby on Aug. 12.

A Washington-bred by He’s Tops, City Twister relished in his return to Emerald Downs last month, demolishing a $25,000 claiming race (N2L) by 8-¾ lengths. Remarkably, that victory came after breaking away from the unfavorable No.1 post-position and steadying at the half-mile pole. Now, City Twister draws the No.8 post, which trainer Dan Markle said he prefers.

“The outside post is the prime spot,” Markle said. “Going 6-½ furlongs, that’s the post you want to have.”

City Twister will be assigned the task of reigning in D’honorable One, who is likely to be favored come post time. A Florida-bred by D’wildcat, D’honorable One has never finished worse than third in five career starts, including a third-place effort in the 2011 Premio Esmeralda Stakes. Since then, the Blaine Wright trainee has snapped off two sharp victories, most recently a 6-¼-length romp in a April 29 allowance race that earned him a field’s best 87 Beyer Speed Figure.

–– Johnski, a half-brother to graded-stakes winner Harvard Avenue and consistent allowance-type Davos, will make his first start at Emerald Downs for trainer Frank Lucarelli and owner/track president Ron Crockett. The Lion Heart colt comes off a half-length victory in a maiden allowance race at Golden Gate.

• Karl Krieg’s Makors Finale, placed in back-to-back stakes races at Turf Paradise, has trained steadily the past month over the Emerald Downs’ oval, including a five-furlong bullet workout in 1:00.40 (1/9) on a sloppy track.

• Last year’s Auburn Handicap winner Showme Yourfriends, at odds of 50-1, heads Saturday’s feature race—a $40,000 allowance optional claiming race for older horses. The one-mile event also includes Amazing Legacy, a full-brother to 2007 Longacres Mile winner The Great Face and half-brother to multiple stakes winner Atta Boy Roy, and El Gran Bebe, who won three straight turf routes during the Golden Gate winter meeting.

• The Auburn Handicap is Race 9 on a 10-race card. Post time is approximately 6:09 p.m.


The field for the 17th running of the Auburn Handicap: Havanna Red, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 115 pounds; Johnski, William Antongeorgi, 117; Brady’s Kat, Javier Matias, 118; D’honorable One,

Leslie Mawing, 122; Makors Finale, Gallyn Mitchell, 120; Brudda Clyde, Jorge Rosales, 117; First

Last Chance, Juan Gutierrez, 117; City Twister, Deborah Hoonan, 118.




Emerald Downs is only seven weeks into its 17th season, yet many intriguing stories have surfaced including the emergence of jockey William Antongeorgi.

A new addition to the 2012 rider’s colony, Antongeorgi has already inserted himself into the conversation as a contender for Leading Jockey honors. In 105 starts, Antongeorgi has 20 wins, just four shy of current standings’ leader Juan Gutierrez, and as the season has progressed, so has Antongeorgi.

In fact, the 25-year-old Long Island native finished last week as the only rider with six wins and was selected The Gift Horse Jockey of the Week. Antongeorgi, whose season goal is to capture the riding crown, said he expects his results to only get better.

“Now that I’m riding horses back a second and third time, I’m starting to learn the horses a little better,” he said.

Riding for top trainers such as Jim Penney and Frank Lucarelli has given Antongeorgi an opportunity to ride some quality horses. He’s already ridden last year’s Top-3-Year-Old Jebrica to a

second-place finish in the Governor’s Handicap and will ride 3-year-old contender Johnski on Sunday in the Auburn Handicap.

Before coming to Emerald Downs, Antongeorgi had ridden at several different tracks, including

Golden Gate, where he peaked during the 2008-09 meeting, riding 88 winners and finishing third in the

jockey standings.




Even with the Auburn Handicap headlining the 10-race lineup, it’s difficult to look past the under

card on Sunday, starting with the sixth race—a $32,000/$25,000 claiming race for older horses sprinting

six furlongs.

Coming off consecutive victories, Rainier Missile will look to join Go With Gusto and Allison

Ridge as the only three-time winners at the meet. The 4-year-old by Golden Missile has shown an affinity for Emerald Downs, finishing first or second in 9-of-14 races. Trainer Dave Bennett said Rainier Missile has been training great, but this upcoming race might be his toughest yet.

“He’s a real fast horse, but he drew the inside post, so he might have to use up some of that speed early in the race,” Bennett said. “He’s run hard every race, but there are some other nice horses in there.”

One logical challenger is Rainier Ice, who could help make for a fascinating race call for track announcer Robert Geller, if both Rainier Ice and Rainier Missile contend in the final furlong. Rainer Ice,

making his first start since finishing seventh the 2011 Seattle Slew Handicap, has won 3-of-6 career starts

and nearly had a fourth in the 2011 Pepsi Cola Handicap, where he finished first but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference in the stretch.

Other notables include 10-year-old Wasserman, the track’s all-time leading earner, He’s All

Heart, winner of the 2011 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic, and Goggles McCoy, who was claimed by trainer

Frank Lucarelli in January at Golden Gate and has three 90-plus Beyer Speed Figures in his last nine


The field for the Sunday’s sixth race and the first leg of the $.50 Pick 5: Rainier Missile, Juan

Gutierrez, 122 pounds; Rainier Ice, Gallyn Mitchell, 120; Kooky Saluki, William Antongeorgi, 122;

Goggles McCoy, Leslie Mawing, 120; Wasserman, Jennifer Whitaker, 117; He’s All Heart, Leonel

Camacho-Flores, 120; Wowie Maui, Joe Crispin, 122.


NOTES: Week 7 honors: Jockey-William Antongeorgi (21-6-3-5); Trainer-Tim McCanna (12-6-2-1); Owner-Sue & Tim Spooner (2-2-0-0); Groom-Rafael Melendes (Roy Lumm)…Exclusive Diva was given an 81 Beyer for her 8-½-length victory in Sunday’s Seattle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Owned and bred by Northwest Farms and trained by Tom Wenzel, Exclusive Diva ran 6-½ furlongs in 1:14.58 to tie the stakes record…Owners/breeders Luigi Di Pietro and Diana Di Pietro are on a roll at Emerald Downs. Two weeks ago it was Hayjax (six furlongs in 1:08.70, 89 Beyer) and last week it was Italian Boy (5-½ furlongs in 1:01.59, 86 Beyer) flying the Di Pietro’s red, green and white silks in the winner’s circle…Speaking of hot, Get Lucky Stables’ Go With Gusto earned a career-high 83 Beyer for hi neck victory Saturday, a triumph which made the 7-year-old gelding only the second three-time winner at the meet…Friday’s feature race—a $10,000 claiming race for fillies and mares—has eight runners with a combined Emerald Downs’ record of 31 wins in 89 starts. Led by Seattle Game (7-for-15) and Champali Lace (6-for-10), the field maintains a 34.8 winning percentage at Emerald Downs…Owners Dave Heerensperger of Bellevue, Wash. and John Xitco of Tacoma, Wash. captured the first race Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park with their 3-year-old Major Marc in a $50,000 claiming race on the turf. Heerensperger also owns Amazing Legacy, who runs Saturday at Emerald Downs, with wife Jill Heerensperger…The Emerald Qualifying Tournament returns on Sunday, and will take place on the track’s fourth floor. The top five finishers will represent “Team Emerald” in the 14th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, presented by Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas. Entries cost $100 apiece, and the track will be accepting tourney sign ups until 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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