Winning Machine looking for third straight win in $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap | Emerald Downs

It’s hard to believe that Emerald Downs is only one month away from hosting the 77th edition of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3), Sunday, Aug. 19. And with The Mile’s final prep this weekend, perhaps it feels even closer.

On Sunday the only item on the agenda for seven older horses is to make a statement in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1-1/16 miles.

For Winning Machine, it’s about defending a winning streak that’s produced back-to-back scores in the division’s first two stakes races this season. A victory in the Mt. Rainier would give the resurgent 6-year-old gelding his first career hat trick and a stranglehold on the track’s divisional honors. Dr. Raymond Kwik, partners with Paul Goldberg of Fleur De Lis Stables, has enjoyed Winning Machine’s return to stakes-winning form.

“This year has been the best one yet,” he said. “His 3-year-old year was wonderful. And while his 4-year-old year just wasn’t good at all, last year he started to get close again.”

Voted Top 3-Year-Old in 2009, Winning Machine looked to be the track’s rising star after a sophomore campaign that saw three stakes wins including a clean sweep of both the Emerald Downs Derby and the BC Derby (G3) at Hastings Racecourse. Instead, it was Noosa Beach who took over the track’s handicap division, while Winning Machine intertwined narrow misses with puzzling lackluster defeats.

This season, however, the diminutive, yet tenacious son of Toccet is back in top form. With wins in the Governor’s and Budweiser Handicaps, Winning Machine now must represent the local contingent and defend the home course. Dr. Kwik knows that won’t be easy with established invaders like Hudson Landing and St Liams Halo shipping in for the Mt. Rainier.

“I think if Hudson Landing runs to form, he’ll probably be the horse to beat.,” Kwik said. “He’s not the only one, though. St Liams Halo could be tough, as well.”

For Hudson Landing, the biggest concern will be the track surface. Since being claimed by trainer Blaine Wright, Hudson Landing has won 3-of-5 including the San Francisco Mile (G3). But it’s been more than two years since the 5-year-old gelding has run on dirt, a surface that he is 0-for-4 on in his career. Wright said Hudson Landing’s performance in the Mt. Rainier would decide whether or not he’d stay for The Mile.

“The Mt. Rainier is all about trying to find out if he’ll handle the dirt,” Wright said. “If this horse can run well on eight different racetracks, I think he should be able to run well here.”

With good weather expected Sunday*70 degrees and clear*the track surface could be just what the doctor ordered for St Liams Halo. A 5-year-old Florida-bred, St Liams Halo is 3-for-5 on a fast, dirt track, and 0-for-4 over wet conditions, which could have played a role in his last two defeats at Hastings.

The Mt. Rainier Handicap is Race 8 on a 10-race card. Post time is 5:39 p.m.

KJR Sports Radio 950 AM and 102.9 FM will broadcast live from 5 to 6 p.m. with Mike Gastineau anchoring coverage that features Robert Geller’s live call of the race.

“Emerald Downs Live,” hosted by Joe Withee, airs live from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday on Comcast Sports Net. The show features the track’s entire race card including exclusive interviews with various horsemen.

Mario Gutierrez, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winning jockey aboard I’ll Have Another, returns to Emerald Downs for the second straight week*this time to ride Hastings’ shipper St Liams Halo for trainer Michael Puhich.

The field for the 17th running of the Mt. Rainier Handicap: 1, Hudson Landing, Frank Alvarado, 122 lbs.; 2, St Liams Halo, Mario Gutierrez, 118; 3, Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 120; 4, Couldabenthewhisky, William Antongeorgi, 116; 5, Rainier Ice, Gallyn Mitchell, 116; 6, Aaron the Baron, Leslie Mawing, 114; 7, Slim Pickins, Juan Gutierrez, 114.


Come join Joe LaDuca, Frank Parente, Luigi DiPietro and many others on Sunday as Emerald Downs celebrates the Northwest’s rich Italian heritage with its inaugural Italian Day.

Festivities include live Italian music, Italian cuisine, a spaghetti-eating contest, a mini bocce ball competition and much more.

On hand will be Tony Ventrella, a renowned Seattle broadcaster, to serve as honorary steward for Italian Day and the featured Mt. Rainier Handicap. The Johnny Lewis Combo will entertain with music throughout the afternoon

For more details please visit


Thoroughbreds won’t be the only animals to grace the Auburn oval on Saturday, as the 16th Annual Kent & Alan STAR 101.5 Wiener Dog Races return to Emerald Downs.

Live racing begins approx. at 2:15 p.m., with the dogs expected to take center stage at approx. 3:30 p.m. There will be two qualifying heats in between horse races, followed by a championship event.

NOTES: Week 14 honors: Jockey-Javier Matias (8-4-1-1); Trainer-Rigoberto Velasquez (4-2-0-2); Owner-Luigi DiPietro & Diana DiPietro (1-1-0-0); Groom-Miguel Ortiz (Tim McCanna); Washington Bred-Eyes On My Heart (Coal Creek Farm)* Leonel Camacho-Flores was due to have stitches removed from his lip Thursday and also is recovering well from a deep arm contusion, agent Ken Green said. Camacho-Flores is fifth in the jockeys’ standings with 36 wins, and could be back riding by next week. Camacho-Flores sustained his injuries in a spill Friday, July 13*Saturday’s $17,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies at 5-½ furlongs features several excellent prospects topped by Blueberry Smoothie, yet another promising newcomer from the Northwest Farms-Tom Wenzel combination. By Giant’s Causeway, Blueberry Smoothie is the first foal out of Shampoo, the five-time stakes winner and two-time Emerald Downs champion. In the same race, Go Jackie Go debuts for Tim McCanna and seeks to become the ninth winning foal out of Go for Jackie, a list that includes Emerald Downs stakes winners Indian Weaver and Slew the Man. McCanna also sends out first-time starter Femmina Pesante, a California-bred by excellent debut sire In Excess out of Alygria, who already has produced Renegade Storm ($181,768), Easy Obsession ($197,777) and Sweet Frippery ($242,794). And Blaine Wright saddles Pebble Beach Baby, by Rock Hard Ten-Sarna, which makes her kin to 17-time winner Stealth Attack and 14-time winners Yacht Spotter and Skyrider*Italian Boy and D’honorable One both were given 81 Beyers for the Seattle Slew Handicap, in which Italian Boy prevailed by a head in 1:41.61 for 1-1/16 miles*Speaking of 81s, Candy for Debbie and Go With Gusto both got 81s for Sunday’s $25,000 claiming race in which Candy for Debbie prevailed by a neck in 1:35.06 for one mile. Nevertheless, Go With Gusto remains the meet’s only four-time winner, while 15 horses including Italian Boy have three wins*Champagneandcaviar received a 77 for her 28-to-1 surprise in the Kent Handicap while runner-up Exclusive Diva got a 76*Jockey Maria Rossak, 0-for-19 at Emerald Downs, rode her first North American winner Wednesday at Portland Meadows, guiding B’s Orchid to a $15 upset in the second race. Luis Torres rode five straight winners and had six victories overall on the nine-race PM card*Juan Gutierrez takes a 57-48 lead on defending champion Leslie Mawing into Week 15 at Emerald Downs, and is on pace to win a career-high 108 races at Emerald Downs*Mawing has ridden at least one winner on the last 12 cards at Emerald Downs, but has actually lost ground as Gutierrez has gone 21-for-76 over the last 12 racing days including one day with four wins and two days with three wins. Mawing will miss Saturday’s action and head south to ride Special Holiday in the $75,000 California State Fair Sprint Handicap at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Mawing rode Special Holiday to consecutive third-place finishes in both the Hastings Handicap and the Washington State Legislators Stakes earlier this season*Sunday’s edition of the “Paddock Preview Show” will feature red-hot jockey Javier Matias who stops by to discuss his upcoming mount on Winning Machine in the Mt. Rainier Handicap. Hosted by Jacob Pollowitz, the 15-minute special takes place in the track paddock from 1:05 to 1:20 p.m.

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