Master’s Bluff and Valid Vixen Queen win stakes at Emerald Downs

Master's Bluff (pink silks) and jockey Rocco Bowen prevail by a nose over He's Not Bluffin in the NWSS Slewdledo Stakes for 2-year-old colts & geldings at Emerald Downs.
— image credit: Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photos

Master’s Bluff out-finished first-time starter He’s Not Bluffin in a furious finish Sunday in the $25,000 Northwest Stallion Series Slewdledo Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at Emerald Downs.

With Rocco Bowen aboard at 118 lbs for his first stakes win at Emerald Downs, Master’s Bluff ran five furlongs in :57.91, and paid $5.20, $2.60 and $2.20. Dave Bennett is the trainer for owners Debra Larson of Phoenix, Ariz. and Shadley Reichert of Seattle.

He’s Not Bluffin, the even-money favorite, led by 1-½ into the stretch, but Master’s Bluff rallied outside, and the two Raise the Bluff colts raced as a team to the wire*with the photo going to Master’s Bluff by a nose.

The Slewdledo Stakes was the second half of a stakes doubleheader that began with a four-length romp by Valid Vixen Queen in the $25,000 NWSS Son of Briartic Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

In the Slewdledo, the stewards posted the inquiry and reviewed a bumping incident in the stretch, but made no change in the order of finish.

“I was sitting in the garden spot,” Bowen said of his trip on Master’s Bluff. “He had plenty left. It was just a matter of getting him to go straight. He’s still learning. He’ll be a monster horse when the races start to get longer.”

By Raise the Bluff-Last S A, Master’s Bluff earned $13,118 for the victory and is 1-0-1 in two career starts. The owners also received a $1,000 bonus check since Master’s bluff was purchased at a WTBOA sale.

He’s Not Bluffin, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 118 lbs, paid $2.40 and $2.10.

It was 7-¾-lengths back to Willy B Gold, ridden by Louis Zacherle at 120 lbs, and a $3.80 show payoff. Off Harbor Account, Harbor Star and Galway Guinness completed the order of finish.


In the NWSS Son of Briartic Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Valid Vixen Queen opened a long early lead and held off 1-to-2 favorite Kathi’s Road for a four-length victory.

With Debbie Hoonan riding the winner at 117 lbs, Valid Vixen Queen ran five furlongs in :58.64, and paid $9.60, $2.80 and $2.60. Neil Knapp is the trainer for owner Joseph Nassif of Shoreline, Wash.

Valid Vixen Queen was the only horse in the field to have raced previously, finishing third in a maiden-claiming race on June 15, and evidently the experience helped, as she made no mistakes Sunday. Rocketing from the outside post-position, she opened a two-length lead while running a quarter-mile in :22.29, and straightened into the stretch with a 1-½-length lead after a half-mile in :46.04.

But, after a slow start, Kathi’s Road rallied into contention and appeared poised to offer a challenge past mid-stretch, but Valid Vixen Queen had plenty left and spurted away for a four-length triumph.

The stakes win was Hoonan’s 13th at Emerald Downs and Knapp’s first.

“From the outside post, I wanted to get in position and make sure I didn’t get hung wide,” Hoonan said. “Normally, I’d try to teach her a little bit, but you can’t do that in a stakes race. I asked her for a little more in the lane and she gave it to me. I could hear the (Kathi’s Road) coming, but I wasn’t looking back.”

Kathi’s Road, ridden by William Antongeorgi at 118 lbs, was clearly second best and paid $2.20 and $2.10.

It was 2-½-lengths back to Supersymmetry, ridden by Javier Matias at 119 lbs, and a $3.40 show payoff. Dakota Demon and House of Hope completed the order of finish.

Valid Vixen Queen, now 1-0-1 in two starts, earned $13,798 for the win.

NOTES: Debbie Hoonan, Leslie Mawing and Juan Gutierrez each rode two winners on the 10-race card*With 22 wins at the meet, Hoonan is closing the gap on Jennifer Whitaker as the track’s all-time leading female rider. Whitaker has 11 wins in 2012 and leads Hoonan 393-388*Hoonan’s win aboard Brats Brat ($20.20) in the finale was the 10th win of the season for Don & Wanda Munger, the meet’s leading owners with 10 wins*Gutierrez has 13 two-win days and leads the jockeys’ standings with 43 wins*Mawing, meanwhile, has ridden two winners each of the last four racing days while moving up to second place in the standings with 38 wins*Chris Stenslie and Tom Wenzel led the trainers with two wins apiece*Wenzel, getting wins with first-time starter Luna Tick ($5.20) and the veteran Zagreus ($23.60), has won with six of his last eight starters*10-year-old gelding D Devil ($7.40) notched his 14th career win and 69th in-the-money finish with a victory in race six. Rigoberto Velasquez, also the conditioner of West Seattle Boy, trains D Devil for owner Marsha Honda*In the fourth race, Amazing G. Force finished third but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference on the backstretch. Leadership was promoted from fourth to third*Live racing resumes Tuesday with special first post time 4:30 p.m. The Fireworks Spectacular presented by Carl’s Jr. will follow the races.

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