The Gang and I takes the Thursday feature | Emerald Downs

Trainer Jim Penney and jockey Juan Gutierrez began Longacres Mile week in style Thursday evening.

The Gang and I, trained by Penney and nursed to the wire by Gutierrez, held off Strategic Patience for a head victory in the $11,650 Ashbaugh Beal Claiming Challenge Qualifying Event for older fillies and mares. The 8-to-5 betting favorite, The Gang and I ran 6-½ furlongs in 1:15.76 and paid $5.40, $3 and $2.60.

The winner is a 4-year-old Washington-bred by You and I-R C Gangster, bred by Homestretch Farms and co-owned by Homestretch Farms and Ellen Follett.

Whether the victory is a good omen for Sunday*when Penney and Gutierrez hook up with Ron and Rosalie Warren’s Jebrica in the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3)*remains to be seen. Penney is No. 1 all-time with five Mile victories and Gutierrez is a two-time winner including the biggest upset in race history at 60-to-1 on No Giveaway in 2005.

Gutierrez, the leading rider with 78 wins at the current meet, led the Gang and I through fractions of :22.42, :44.86 and 1:09.38, and the filly dug in bravely to hold off an onrushing Strategic Patience for the victory.

Strategic Patience, the 5-to-2 second choice ridden by Debbie Hoonan, rallied from last place to just miss a second straight victory. The runner-up paid $3.60 and $2.20.

Tweetie Pie, ridden by William Antongeorgi, was a half-length back in third and paid $2.80. Montelena and Ballistic Blonde completed the order of finish.

The Gang and I is 5-2-2 in 16 lifetime starts with earnings of $80,218, including $6,408 for Thursday’s win.

NOTES: Olympic Lights ($7.40) scored his 14th Emerald Downs victory in the fifth race in 1:02.65 for 5-½ furlongs. Trained by Blaine Wright and owned by Kerry Gunderson, the 8-year-old Washington-bred gelding is the leading active winner at the track and tied with Kimos Friend and Toobusytoocall for fifth place all-time* Gearing Up posted a $25.20 victory in the opener to give trainer Charles Gibson his second win in the last two racing days. The three gray horses*Gearing Up, Irish Rover and Cash Gaming*finished one/two/three in the first race*Rocco Bowen was the only jockey to ride two winners on the seven-race*Semele ($3.60) in the third and Miss Madavor in the nightcap*Jennifer Whitaker’s victory aboard Port Wakefield ($7) in the fourth was her 399th at Emerald Downs*Debbie Hoonan countered with Tekela Reserve in the second and has 394 wins at Emerald Downs*Live racing continues Friday with first post 6:15 p.m.

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