E Z Kitty returns to Emerald Downs

The multiple stakes-winning 5-year-old mare E Z Kitty is back at Emerald Downs, trainer Jeff Metz said Thursday. A triple stakes winner at Turf Paradise and a double stakes winner at Emerald Downs, E Z Kitty was sold by trainer Mike Chambers and owners John Xitco and Dan Agnew to Bruce and Cass Maller of Scottsdale, Ariz., with Metz the new trainer.

A Washington-bred by He’s Tops-Envision the Cat, E Z Kitty has a career mark of 9-1-2 in 16 starts with earnings of $151,173. She has a 6-0-1 mark in 10 starts at Emerald Downs topped by triumphs in the 2011 John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes and the 2012 Washington State Legislators Stakes. Following the latter event, in which she defeated 2012 Horse of the Meeting Class Included, E Z Kitty was sold by owner/trainer H.R. Gibson to the Chambers group, who transferred her to Turf Paradise where she caught the eye of Metz while winning three stakes.

Voted 2012 Washington state champion Older Filly or Mare, E Z Kitty has displayed great versatility in her career. In fact, her five stakes wins include two sprints and three routes, as well as victories on turf and dirt, including one victory on a sloppy track.

E Z Kitty, whose last start was a runner-up effort in the March 9 Mesa Handicap, is likely to make her 2013 EmD debut in the $50,000 Hastings Handicap on Sunday, May 2.


E Z Kitty is among 25 horses with Metz at Emerald Downs, most of the runners having competed this winter and spring at Turf Paradise. His horses are stabled in Barn 7 in the northern tip of the stable area.

The Metz runners trained locally for the first time Wednesday and were greeted, naturally, by a steady drizzle.

“The rain didn’t dampen my enthusiasm one bit,” Metz said. “It was great to get started.”

As a male counterpart to E Z Kitty, Why Not Be Perfect is expected to carry the stakes load in the older handicap division, and perhaps give Metz his first starter in the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3). A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred by Whywhywhy, Why Not Be Perfect arrives here on a roll, having notched consecutive stakes wins on the turf course including a neck triumph in last Saturday’s Wildcat Handicap at 1-3/8 miles

With Anne Sanguinetti as rider, Metz said Why Not Be Perfect would be pointed to the $50,000 Budweiser handicap at one mile on Sunday, June 16.

“If all goes well, his schedule will be the Budweiser Handicap, (July 21) Mt. Rainier Handicap and the Longacres Mile,” Metz said.


Trainer Howard Belvoir announced Thursday that 11-year-old Wasserman would make his 2013 debut at Emerald Downs in the feature race on opening night, a $25,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds and upward at 5-½ furlongs. Remarkably, it will be the gelding’s ninth opening day at Emerald Downs.

Despite reaching the twilight of his career, Wasserman still seems to have his competitive edge. In fact, Belvoir said the veteran gelding has been training above par leading into his first start of the season.

“He’s feeling really good right now,” Belvoir said. “I think he’s training better this year than he trained at all last year.”

Wasserman, the track’s all-time leading money earner with $560,458, has assembled an illustrious career over an 8-year-span that includes six stakes wins capped off by a neck score in the 2008 Longacres Mile.

As usual, Jennifer Whitaker is scheduled to ride Wasserman on opening night. The track’s leading female rider with 410 wins, Whitaker has ridden Wasserman in 59 of 74 career starts and countless other times in gallops, jogs and workouts.


While stakes horses produce the headlines and earn the big money, Emerald Downs couldn’t have a race meeting without a slew of fit and ready claiming horses. Last year, the track was fortunate to have an unusually deep group of claimers, as 17 horses produced at least four wins during the 81-day meeting.

Of those, only two*Rocky’s Quest and Cresent McGain*managed to win five races at the meet, capping their brilliant campaigns with victories on closing day. Both are back for another go-round in 2013, and their connections are crossing their fingers for repeat performances.

Trained by Blaine Wright and owned by John and Janene Maryanski, Rocky’s Quest earned honors as the meet’s Top Claimer after compiling a 5-2-1 record in eight starts against increasingly tougher competition.

A 5-year-old son of Rockport Harbor, Rocky’s Quest took the winter off and will be eased into the 2013 meeting.

“We’re going to start a little light on him,” said Wright. “It’s a long meet and we’ll know a lot more about most of our horse in a few weeks.”

Cresent McGain won races for three different trainers last year, beginning with H.R. Mullens and finishing with Dino Apostolou. In between, the Washington-bred gelding won twice for trainer G.D. Khalsa.

Including two wins last fall at Portland Meadows, Cresent McGain has won four of six starts for Apostolou, who is confident the gelding is primed for another productive campaign.

“So far, Cresent McGain is doing great,” said Apostolou, who hopes to have the gelding entered opening weekend. “He’s ready right now. Rocco Bowen worked him five furlongs and came back excited with what he felt under him.”

Among the horses with four wins apiece last season, Kooky Saluki, Seattle Game, Majorca Gold, Grand Baylee, Mile Easy, Port Wakefield and Zippin E have all begun training at Emerald Downs for the upcoming meeting. Perfect Pie, winner of seven races the past two seasons, has also worked steadily thus far. Makors Finale, the only horse to win four stakes last year, also is training for the 2013 season.


NOTES: With eight days remaining until opening night, Director of Racing Bret Anderson reports 860 horses on the grounds*up 41 horses from the same date last year. . .Two of the track’s top older handicap horses*Winning Machine and Makors Finale*are progressing nicely and could meet in a $21,000 allowance race at 5 ½ furlongs on Sunday, April 28. Winning Machine zipped six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 Thursday and regular rider Javier Matias said the 7-year-old gelding is going great guns. “He feels even better than last year,” said Matias, who came within a head of winning the 2012 Longacres Mile aboard Winning Machine. Makors Finale, meanwhile, is making the transition into the older horse ranks, and trainer Tom Wenzel said, “So far, so good.”  Makors Finale has six works under his belt, most recently 1:01 2/5 for five furlongs Monday on a wet-fast track. . .Wenzel said he is training four horses for owner George Todaro this season, including three 2-year-olds. . .One of the newcomers to the jockey colony is Ronald Richard, a 24-year-old native of Opelousas, La. Richard, who began his career in his home state, has ridden most recently in Northern California. Veteran agent Vito Lucarelli will book mounts for three riders in 2013: Richard, David G. Lopez and Isaias Enriquez. . .Cassie Papineau, who set a then single-season apprentice record of 70 wins in 2009, plans to ride at Emerald Downs this season with Jeff Brown as agent. . .Former jockey Hugh Wales is breaking into the agents ranks with three riders, Connie Doll, Eliska Kubinova and Jose Zunino. . .Association clocker Joan Hutchison said Tuesday was one of the busiest mornings in track history with 191 horses logging official workouts. . . Champagneandcaviar, who edged Exclusive Diva, for honors as the track’s top 3-year-old filly last year, has worked seven times this spring for trainer Howard Belvoir including a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 3/5 Tuesday. . .Scott Hanson’s Emerald Downs handicap will appear every racing day in the Seattle Times. Hanson said he had a $1.90 r.o.i. In his first season picking the horses in 2012, and hopes to up things to an even $2.00 in 2013. Opening night handicappers take note: Hanson tabbed six out of eight winners in his first-ever handicap on April 13, 2012*In other handicapping news, Jacob Pollowitz of media relations will offer up a daily selection in the official program. “Professor Pollowitz’ Pick of the Day” also features a suggested economical wagering strategy using his pick. . .In addition to 11-year-old Wasserman and 9-year-old Assessment, Belvoir returns the 9-year-old gelding Immigration. A Delineator gelding, Immigration has earned $197,216 in a 60-race career that began in 2006 with three stakes wins and honors as the track’s Top 2-Year-Old Male. Thursday, Immigration breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 on a wet-fast track under regular rider Jennifer Whitaker. . .More Strawberries, a 3-year-old maiden that ran in last year’s Gottstein Futurity, earned Thursday’s six-furlong bullet in 1:11 3/5 from the starting gate for trainer Dan Markle. . .Kyle Branch, who last rode in 2010, is beginning a comeback this season with Keith Drebin as agent. The 34-year-old Branch is a former state wrestling champion at Kentwood High School, and finished fifth in his weight division at the 1996 Olympic trials. His best season in the saddle was 16 wins at the 2007-08 Aqueduct meet. . .Our good neighbors to the north resume live racing Saturday as Hastings Racecourse begins a 69-day meet with an eight-race card that features 2010 Mt. Rainier Handicap runner-up Senor Rojo in a $25,000 allowance/optional claimer at six furlongs. The first stakes at the Vancouver oval is the $50,000 Brighouse Belles for fillies and mares on Saturday, April 27. In the jockey colony, Aaron Gryder replaces Mario Gutierrez as stable rider for Glen Todd’s North American Thoroughbred Horse Co.

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