National holds off Wasserman in Thursday feature | Emerald Downs

National took command into the stretch and edged away from Wasserman for a 1-½-length victory Thursday in the $12,700 Ashbaugh Beal Claiming Challenge Qualifying Event at Emerald Downs.

Ridden by William Antongeorgi, National ran one mile in 1:36.69 and paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.20. Jim Penney, assisted by Kay Cooper, is the trainer for owner Donald Lang.

Wasserman, ridden by Jennifer Whitaker, chased the winner home but had to settle for second place and payoffs of $3.20 and $2.10.

It was 1-¾-lengths back to Mr. Mad Max, ridden by Debbie Hoonan, and a $2.20 show payoff. Hunter Kane and Free Beer completed the order of finish.

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Awesome Again, National has a 3-1-2 record in 11 career starts with earnings of $28,875. His last two defeats were against two of the track’s sharpest claiming horses, Go With Gusto and Rocky’s Quest, and the drop into a slightly softer spot did the track.

National swept past Hunter Kane into the lane, and then held off Wasserman in the stretch for the victory.

“He’s a tiger,” Lang said of National after the race. “He just digs in. I love him.”

Wasserman, meanwhile, earned a second-place check worth $2,540 and pushed his track records earnings record to $547,691. The 10-year-old gelding has raced five times with one second and one third at the meeting.

Antongeorgi and Mawing erode three winners apiece on the eight-race card and are closing ground on the top spot. Through Thursday, Juan Gutierrez leads with 62, followed by Mawing, 56, and Antongeorgi, 53. Mawing also is 10 wins shy of 2,000 career victories.

NOTES: Olympic Lights ($3.60) scored his first 2012 victory and 13th at Emerald Downs in 1:15.68 for 6-½ furlongs in the third race. The 8-year-old Tropic Lightning gelding is now tied with Chickasaw Park for most wins by an active horse at Emerald Downs*Rockymstar ($3.20) and Ontheshadyside ($2.10) produced the third dead-heat for win at the meet in Thursday’s fourth race. The 4-year-old geldings hit the wire in 1:09.59 for six furlongs*Whiskey Miner ($5) rallied to win the sixth race and the 3-year-old filly is 3-2-0 in her last five starts for owner Jack Porter and trainer Neil Knapp*Live racing continues Friday with first post 6:15 p.m.

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