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Italian Boy wins the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap and Champagneandcaviar takes Kent Handicap | Emerald Downs

Italian Boy (inside) holds off D
Italian Boy (inside) holds off D'honorable One in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Emerald Downs-Reed Palmer

The speedy Italian Boy proved he could route Sunday with a game head victory over D’honorable One in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings at Emerald Downs.

The Seattle Slew was the opening half of a stakes double-header that included the $50,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Kentucky Derby winning rider Mario Gutierrez also was on hand to sign autographs before the races and collected one victory in five mounts on the nine-race card.

For Italian Boy, it’s never been a question of talent or speed*the Tizbud colt has plenty of both*but how far he can carry his lightning quick speed for trainer Tim McCanna. Sunday, the answer was 1-1/16 miles as Italian Boy zipped through early fractions of 22.21, :45.05, and 1:09.11, and held off D’honorable One in the final yards for the victory.

In the process, Italian Boy raced 9-to-5 betting favorite Makors Finale into defeat, as the double stakes winner tired while trying to keep pace with Italian Boy, and finished fourth.

Ridden by William Antongeorgi at 118 lbs., Italian Boy ran 1-1/16 miles in 1:41.61 and paid $10.40, $5.20 and $3.40. Italian Boy has won four straight races including three straight at the meeting, and is 4-1-1 in six starts overall with earnings of $59,230 for owners Luigi DiPietro of Seattle and Diana DiPietro of Tukwila.

The Seattle Slew was Italian Boy’s first race farther than six furlongs, and even though he had won his last three races by a combined 20-½ lengths, bettors were skeptical enough to make him only the fourth choice in the field of seven.

“I wanted to give my horse an easy lead, but we had to go a little quicker than I wanted,” Antongeorgi said. “(Italian Boy) got tired in the turn, but like a good horse, he dug in.

“I was a little surprised he was able to hold on after going so fast early in the race, especially since it was his first time going around two turns. He just kept trying the whole way.”

D’honorable One, with Leslie Mawing riding at 122 lbs, rallied from sixth place to make the finish close, but couldn’t get past Italian Boy. D’honorable One, 2-2-0 in four starts at the meet, paid $3.40 and $2.60.

It was six lengths back to Edge Forward, ridden by Mario Gutierrez at 117 lbs., and a $3.20 show payoff.

In the Kent Handicap, a resilient Champagneandcaviar re-rallied to hand odds-on favorite Exclusive Diva her first loss this year by three-quarters of a length. With Javier Matias riding at 115 lbs, Champagneandcaviar ran 1-1/16 miles in 1:42.02 and paid a Kent Handicap record $58.60 to win.

Trained by Howard Belvoir, Champagneandcaviar earned $27,500 to boost her bankroll to $47,775 for Fleur De Lis Stable.

By Van Nistlerooy, Champagneandcaviar is out of the same dam*Dance With Carson*that produced Winning Machine, the top older horse at Emerald Downs this season with wins in the Governors and Budweiser Handicaps.

“There really wasn’t a plan going into this race,” Matias said. “I wanted to break fast this time, because last time she didn’t break well. I saw nobody was going to the lead, so I just took it. The pace was feeling so easy.

“From the quarter-pole to the wire, I rode this horse so hard. (Exclusive Diva) passed me, so I went left-handed with the stick, and my horse came right back. I really wanted to beat that horse, because she was the class of the race.”

MARIO GUTIERREZ ENJOYS SUNDAY VISIT

In his first appearance at Emerald Downs since his wins aboard I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Mario Gutierrez compiled 1-0-2 record in five mounts on the nine-race program.

The victory came in his first mount, a 5-¼-length triumph on even-money favorite Starlight Gem for trainer Mike Puhich in the third race. Gutierrez finished third in both stakes races, guiding 3-to-1 Edge Forward to a third in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap and riding 5-to-2 Regal Betty to a third in the Kent Handicap.

Gutierrez also signed an estimated 1,200 autographs before the races in the paddock area, as fans had a chance to meet and greet the Kentucky Derby winner.

“It’s been so nice to be back at Emerald Downs,” Gutierrez said. “Being in the jockeys’ room and talking with everybody has been great. It’s been such a great year, I’m glad I can share my happiness with everyone.”

THURSDAY RACING BEGINS THIS WEEK

For the next six weeks*July 19 to Aug. 23*live racing will be held every Thursday with first post 6 p.m. The new four-day racing weeks feature twilight racing at 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and afternoon racing at 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day.

The 82-day meeting runs through Sunday, Sept. 23.

NOTES: Gallyn Mitchell was shaken up in a fourth race spill on Silver Sneakers and taken to Auburn Regional Medical Center, but the track’s all-time leader in wins was back at the track and watched the final two races in the paddock. Jose Zunino finished fourth substituting for Mitchell on Makors Finale in the Seattle Slew Handicap, and Leslie Mawing finished fourth aboard Royal Moses as a replacement for Mitchell in the Kent Handicap*Go With Gusto, with Zunino pinch-hitting for Mitchell, finished second in the seventh race, a $17,950 purse for $32,000/$25,000 claimers, but is still the only horse with four wins at the meet*Candy for Debbie ($12.20) prevailed in the seventh with apprentice Eliska Kubinova completing her 10th riding double this season. With 43 wins in 44 days, Kubinova needs 28 wins in the final 38 days to break the single-season record for wins by an apprentice jockey*Juan Gutierrez and Leslie Mawing each rode one winner and Gutierrez leads Mawing 57-48 in the jockeys’ standings*Like Nobody Else paid a meet-high $83.40 after a front-running victory in race two for owner Coal Creek Farm and trainer Larry Ross. Javier Matias had the pick-up mount as Leonel Camacho-Flores missed a second straight day with an arm injury sustained in a Friday spill*Shamundi ($9.40) and jockey Rocco Bowen prevailed in the $10,000 Inaugural Handicap at Portland Meadows. Trained by Ben Root, Shamundi ran six furlongs in 1:11.81.

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