Champagneandcaviar takes Elusive Diva in $65,000 Washington Oaks

Champagneandcaviar and jockey Javier Matias (blue silks) prevail by a head in the Washington Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs. August 11, 2012 - Photo courtesy Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo
Champagneandcaviar and jockey Javier Matias (blue silks) prevail by a head in the Washington Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs. August 11, 2012
— image credit: Photo courtesy Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo

Proving her stakes win last month was no fluke, Champagneandcaviar caught Exclusive Diva in the final strides for a head victory Saturday in the $65,000 Washington Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs.

Perfectly ridden by Javier Matias at 120 lbs, Champagneandcaviar ran 1-1/8-miles in 1:48.75 and paid $14.80, $5.20 and $3. Howard Belvoir is the trainer for Fleur De Lis Stables, the meet’s leading stakes owners with two wins apiece by Champagneandcaviar and Longacres Mile contender Winning Machine.

The Oaks was a virtual replay of last month’s Kent Handicap in which Champagneandcaviar edged Exclusive Diva by three-quarters-of-a-length for the victory. Each filly finished the meet with two stakes victories, but voters typically favor the horse that wins the championship race.

Exclusive Diva, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 lbs, led for 99 percent of the race but was nailed as Champagneandcaviar rallied inside for the victory. Exclusive Diva paid $2.60 and $2.60.

Exclusive Diva set fractions of :23.45, :47.80, 1:11.67 and 1:35.94, and she appeared to have the race won after turning aside Canadian invader Our Eleanor into the lane.

“I thought after we pulled away from Our Eleanor that we were going to win, but Champagneandcaviar is just really competitive,” Gutierrez said.

A Kentucky-bred by Toccet out of Dance With Carson (the mare who also produced Winning Machine), Champagneandcaviar earned $41,250 for the victory. Her career mark is 3-2-2 in 11 starts with earnings of $87,865. Pretty good, considering she lost her first three starts of the meet against maiden $12,500 claimers.

Matias, who has turned into a big-money rider with five stakes wins this season, rated Champagneandcaviar in third place, and got a big response from his filly in the lane.

“I didn’t think I would get the lead because I knew Juan (Gutierrez) wanted to send his horse,” Matias said. “I had a tight hold on my horse the whole way. I wanted to keep the front of her body in between (Exclusive Diva) and the rail so that I’d have room in the stretch. I looked back at the quarter-pole and saw (Our Eleanor) was the only one closing. I was pretty confident we were going to win. She’s got a big heart.”

Our Eleanor, the 7-to-2 second choice ridden by William Antongeorgi, finished third and paid $3.

Royal Moses rallied from last to finish fourth and was followed by Whiskey Miner, Talk to My Lawyer, Stephiano and Regal Betty.

NOTES: Leslie Mawing rode four winners and closed within five wins of Juan Gutierrez, 76-71, in the jockeys’ standings. It was Mawing’s third four-bagger of the season*Heavenly Skyknight, off the board in two races at Sun Downs this spring, scored an $80.40 stunner under Jose Zunino in Saturday’s first race. The only bigger $2 win price this season is Like Nobody Else at $83.40 on July 15*Zunino rode two winners and is the seventh jockey to win 30 races at the meet*Trainer Bob Meeking saddled back-to-back winners*Sharper Knight ($7.80) and Canadia ($3.40) in races five and six*and is 16-for-45 at the meet (36 percent). Meeking, incidentally, is 11-for-22 combined this season with Mawing* Mawing also has been gangbusters with trainer Frank Lucarelli, combining to win 18-of-52 starts including $21.80 winner Single N Lovin It in race two*Dave Bowman co-owns two of Saturday’s winners*J C’s My Brother ($24) in the fourth and Canadia in the sixth*Lucarelli’s two wins Saturday stretched his lead to 36-31 on Tim McCanna in the trainers’ standings*Trainer Bob Gibson saddled his first two winners of the season, book-ending the card with Heavenly Skynight and ninth-race winner Kas Can Dance ($8.40)*For the second time this season female jockeys swept the top three spots as Connie Doll, Anne Sanguinetti and Debbie Hoonan finished one-two-three in the ninth on Kas Can Dance, Firedancers M G and T W Is Flying Now*Roarified ($4.40) returned from a four-month layoff to score in race three, and is five-for-eight lifetime for trainer Chris Stenslie*Longacres Mile contender St Liams Halo worked five furlongs in 1:02 (breezing) Saturday at Pegasus Training Center in Redmond*Northern California shipper Bailouttheminister has arrived for The Mile and is scheduled to blow out Monday morning*Live racing continues Sunday with first post 2:15 p.m. The $65,000 Emerald Downs Derby goes as the ninth race at 6:22 p.m., with Heidi Nelson’s D’honorable One the 9-to-5 favorite in the meet’s championship race for sophomore colts and geldings at 1-1/8-miles.

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