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Trainer Tom Wenzel wins both stakes | Emerald Downs
Trainer Tom Wenzel has had some big days at Emerald Downs including a victory by The Great Face in the 2007 Longacres Mile.
The 46-year-old Tacoma native might have outdone them all Sunday, however, as he went four-for-four and saddled the winners of both halves of a stakes double-header for 3-year-olds.
In the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings, Wenzel sent out Karl Krieg’s rapidly improving Makors Finale for a hard-earned three-quarter-length victory over D’honorable One.
Three races later, Wenzel saddled Northwest Farms’ heavily favored Exclusive Diva for a three-quarter-length triumph over Royal Moses in the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Gallyn Mitchell at 121 lbs, Makors Finale ran one mile in 1:35.13 on a fast track and paid $5.40, $3 and $2.60.
With Juan Gutierrez aboard at 120 lbs, Exclusive Diva ran one mile in 1:35.88 and paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10.
Wenzel became only the fourth trainer in the track’s 17-year history to win two stakes in one day and, for good measure, added victories with Five Horizons ($14.40) in the second race and A Belle and a Cat ($3.60) in the seventh.
Ever the stoic, Wenzel downplayed his achievement and said it was the byproduct of a hard-working staff.
“Whenever the barn has success it’s because of the good people working for me,” Wenzel said. “They deserve a lot of the credit.”
The Coca-Cola nearly turned into a replay of the June 3 Auburn Handicap that resulted in only the second dead-heat for win in an Emerald Downs stakes race. Once again Makors Finale sprinted to the early lead*setting fractions of :22.23, :46.13 and 1:09.93*and once again D’honorable One loomed boldly into the lane. Makors Finale was up to the challenge, however and edged away for the win.
“When he saw (D’honorable One), my horse gave me another half-length,” Mitchell said. “When he runs with company, he’s such a different horse. I was just trying to use my head and let him do the work. He’s one of the top-five horses I’ve ever been on.”
It was the second straight stakes win for Makors Finale, a Washington-bred colt by Makors Mark-Coup de Foudre with a lifetime mark of 4-4-0 from nine starts. The $27,500 first prize increased the colt’s earnings to $90,852 for Krieg, who bred Makors Finale at his farm in Oak Harbor.
D’honorable One, ridden by Leslie Mawing at high weight of 122 lbs, paid $3 and $2.60 for place and show. The Florida-bred colt had a three-race winning streak ended, but ran well nevertheless in his first try around two turns.
Brady’s Kat, third in the Auburn, also finished third in the Coca-Cola Handicap. Ridden by Javier Matias at 118, Brady’s Kat was four lengths behind D’honorable One and paid $4.60.
Edge Forward, Havanna Red, Don’t Be Coy Roy, First Last Chance and City Twister completed the order of finish.
EXCLUSIVE DIVA HOLDS OFF ROYAL MOSES
Exclusive Diva asserted her class and held off a big late challenge from Royal Moses for her second straight stakes victory at the meet. Surprisingly, however, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Bernardini-Puxa Saco did not lead gate-to-wire, as a rush of early challengers including Talk to My Lawyer, Lady Hokulea and Sweet Saga took early cracks at the 1-to-2 betting favorite.
“This race was a little funny today,” Gutierrez said. “I thought I was going to take the lead, but Lady Hokulea took the lead, so I stayed behind her. On the backside, I started to get worried, because I didn’t know if she’d be able to respond. At the quarter-pole, I started to ask her for everything.”
Exclusive Diva spurted two lengths clear on the last turn, running six furlongs in 1:10.23, and opened a commanding four-length advantage after seven furlongs in 1:22.88. But just when it appeared Exclusive Diva was destined to win in another romp, Royal Moses emerged from the pack and unleashed a furious late charge to make the outcome close.
“I saw Royal Moses closing fast, but my filly tried hard,” Gutierrez said. “She reminds me of Elusive Horizon. She’s a little filly with a big heart.”
Royal Moses, ridden by Mitchell at 117, was runner-up for a second straight time to Exclusive Diva and paid $3.60 and $2.60.
It was 9-¾ lengths back to third-place finisher Champagneandcaviar, ridden by Matias at 118, and a $7 show payoff. Lady Hokulea, Sweet Saga, Muchas Coronas and Talk to My Lawyer completed the order of finish.
Exclusive Diva has compiled a 4-0-1 record in five career starts including three stakes wins: 2011 Angie C Stakes, 2012 Seattle Handicap and 2012 Irish Day Handicap. The $27,500 winner’s share bumped her bankroll to $98,105 for owner-breeder Northwest Farms (Jerre Paxton, Yakima).
NOTES: Trainers Neil Knapp and Bob Meeking had two wins apiece on the 10-race card*Four jockeys accounted for all 10 wins on the card. Gallyn Mitchell and Leslie Mawing rode three winners apiece and Leonel Camacho-Flores and leading rider Juan Gutierrez had two wins each*Gutierrez has 39 wins followed by a three-way tie for second between Camacho-Flores, William Antongeorgi and Eliska Kubinova with 33 wins each*8-year-old Sun City came off the bench and scored a $14.80 surprise in the fifth race for owner/trainer Joe Toye. It was the mare’s 17th career victory but her first in 16 tries at six furlongs*Capital Plan, co-owned by Mark Dedomenico, prevailed as the 4-to-5 favorite in the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap (G3) for older fillies and mares on the turf at Hollywood Park*Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:15 p.m.