Enumclaw trainer Frank Lucarelli scores a win in $50,000 Budweiser Handicap with Winning Machine | Emerald Downs

Winning Machine and jockey Javier Matias prevail in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs. June 17, 2012 - Photo courtesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo
Winning Machine and jockey Javier Matias prevail in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs. June 17, 2012
— image credit: Photo courtesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo

Winning Machine held off a resilient Rainier Ice and scored a half-length victory Sunday in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.

Trained by Frank Lucarelli from Enumclaw and ridden by Javier Matias at 119 pounds, Winning Machine ran one mile in 1:34.44 and paid $5, $3.20 and $2.80. It was the second straight stakes triumph for the 6-year-old gelding, who at least temporarily moves to the head of the class for older horses en route to the Longacres Mile.

Noosa Beach, the two time defending champion of the Budweiser, flipped dramatically after loading in the starting gate, and was a late scratch. The 2010 and 2011 Horse of the Meeting was 3-to-5 before the incident, but both Noosa Beach and jockey Leslie Mawing escaped serious injury.

With Noosa Beach out of the race, Winning Machine and Jebrica became the co 3-to-2 betting favorites, but it was Winning Machine emerging with his ninth victory in 29 career starts, including four stakes wins at Emerald Downs. The $27,500 first prize pushed the gelding’s earnings to $417,778 for owner-breeder Fleur De Lis Stables. A Kentucky-bred by Toccet, Winning Machine was voted Emerald Downs’ Top 3-Year-Old Male in 2009.

Rainier Ice, ridden by Gallyn Mitchell at 116 lbs, paid $3.80 and $3.80 for place and show. The 4-year-old gelding had won four-of-seven starts, but the Budweiser was his first test vs. the track’s top older horses.

Slim Pickins, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 117 lbs, was 4-¼-lengths back in third place and paid $3.20. Jebrica and Aaron the Baron completed the order of finish.

Rainier Ice recovered quickly from an awkward start and led through fractions of :24.06, :47.83 and 1:10.83, but Winning Machine loomed ominously from the outside and the two bays entered the home stretch as a team. From there it was a sprint to the wire, and Winning Machine gradually got the better of his foe.

“My horse broke sharp from the gate, but I could see (Rainier Ice) going to the front,” Matias said. “I asked my horse to just sit back, and he relaxed for me. I had to use him a little early because I knew the leader would be tough. I looked back at the three-eighths pole and saw that nobody was closing. You can do anything with this horse. You can send him to the front or take him back.”

Mitchell said Rainier Ice was gallant in defeat.

“My horse kept digging in and digging in,” he said. “Next time the result might be a different story.”

NOTES: Lucarelli saddled three winners on the 10-race card and the trainers’ race has tightened into a three-horse race. Howard Belvoir leads with 19 wins and Lucarelli and Tim McCanna are tied for second with 18 wins apiece*Cat On Base ($4.40) became the sixth horse with three wins at the meet with a gate-to-wire victory in 1:08.30 for six furlongs in the eighth race. Jennifer Whitaker rode the winner for Belvoir and owners Rising Star Stable V. In the same race, Wasserman earned $1,350 for finishing fourth to raise his track record total to $544,781*Juan Gutierrez, Leslie Mawing and Gallyn Mitchell rode two winners apiece, and Gutierrez finished the week with a 36-30 edge over Leonel Camacho-Flores in the jockeys’ race. Gutierrez already has 11 two-win days*At Hollywood Park, Turbulent Descent ($5) returned from a six-month break to edge Izzy Rules in the $70,000 Desert Stormer Handicap for older fillies and mares. The multiple Grade I winner is owned in part by Steve Zerda, who has a horse in training with Lucarelli at Emerald Downs...Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6 p.m.

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