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Dance Chief wins Friday Feature | Emeral Downs

Hern/LePley Racing
Hern/LePley Racing's 7-year-old gelding Dance Chief pervails in the $10,375 feature race Friday at Emerald Downs. With the riding victory, Eliska Kubinova tied the single-season Emerald Downs' apprentice mark of 70 wins. September 7, 2012.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo

Dance Chief out-finished Stellar Blue in a furious stretch battle and notched a head victory Friday in the $10,375 MRW Advisory Group, LLC Marathon for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.

Ridden by apprentice Eliska Kubinova, Dance Chief ran 1-¼ miles in 2:03.96 and paid $6.60, $4.20 and $2.80. It was the third win in four starts at Emerald Downs and 10th in 58 career starts for the 7-year-old gelding.

With the victory Kubinova tied the single-season apprentice record of 70 wins set by Cassie Papineau in 2009. Kubinova ranks third overall with 70 wins, and the 23-year-old Czech has eight days to establish a new record. It could happen Saturday when she is scheduled to eight races including Apple of Sam’s Eye, the 7-to-5 morning line favorite in race one.

Tim McCanna, meanwhile, is making a bid for his 11th training title at Emerald Downs. Dance Chief’s victory pulled McCanna within two wins of Frank Lucarelli, 40-38, as the two winningest trainers in track history battle for the 2012 training championship.

If McCanna captures the title, Dance Chief will have played a key role in the outcome. Claimed in June for $4,000 at Golden Gate Fields, the Kentucky-bred has thrived on the local oval with three wins*all by a head with Kubinova riding*in four starts.

Friday’s feature was the first 1-¼ mile race of the season and the public hammered Dance Chief down to the favorite’s role over Sarganis. In fourth most of the race, Dance Chief attacked on the last turn, gained a short lead into the stretch and had to fend off a resilient Stellar Blue for the victory.

“I like everything about (Dance Chief), he always gives me everything he has,” Kubinova said. “But he’ll never win by much because he waits for other horses.”

Stellar Blue, a 45-to-1 long shot ridden by Javier Matias, set the early pace, running one-mile in 1:37.89, and held on well to the finish. Stellar Blue paid $21.80 and $10.80.

It was another head back to Armed Service, who edged Sarganis for third and paid $5.40.

Owned by Hern/LePley Racing, Dance Chief earned $5,500 to increase his career bankroll to $239,499.

NOTES: Juan Gutierrez rode two winners and set a personal career-high with 102 wins, two more than his previous mark last year. He leads second-place Leslie Mawing by 17 wins and appears a lock to win his first Emerald Downs’ riding title. No. 2 all-time with 980 wins at Emerald Downs, Gutierrez also has an outside chance to hit 1,000 wins before the meet ends September 23*Gutierrez has 30 days with at least two wins, including a five-win day on Labor Day*Live racing continues Saturday with first post 2 p.m. on a nine-race card.

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