Sunday’s $21,000 allowance feature for older fillies and mares at 5-½ furlongs marks the comeback race for You Me and Ema B, the track’s Top Older Filly or Mare of 2011 who missed the entire 2012 season for trainer Margo Lloyd.
Winner of four-of-six lifetime, including the 2011 Boeing Handicap and Hastings Handicap, You Me and Ema B underwent surgery for non-displaced chips on her ankles in September 2011, and also missed training with body soreness.
A front-runner, You Me and Ema B is three-for-four sprinting, but meets a tough field Sunday loaded with speed.
Designed as a prep race for the $50,000 Hastings Handicap on Sunday, May 12, four of the five horses entered have won stakes at Emerald Downs.
“I think it’s going to be a tough race, it’s definitely a preview for the (Hastings),” Lloyd said. “I took (You Me and Ema B) to the gate today, and she wanted to break really bad. She came off the track doing the ‘Zenyatta strut.’ ”
Exclusive Diva has won three stakes at Emerald Downs for trainer Tom Wenzel, at distances from six furlongs to one mile. Also a front-runner, the 4-year-old Bernardini filly is five-for-eight lifetime with earnings of $135,521 for Northwest Farms and Debbie Paxton.
E Z Kitty returns to Washington after winning three stakes races this winter at Turf Paradise. The 5-year-old He’s Tops mare is nine-for-16 lifetime and picked off two stakes wins at EmD: 2011 John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes and 2012 Washington State Legislators Stakes. The mare was sold privately to Bruce Maller earlier this month, and transferred to trainer Jeff Metz.
Carrabelle Harbor won the 2011 Kent Handicap over Class Included, and the 5-year-old Oregon-bred adds additional speed to the lineup for trainer Doris Harwood.
“It’s a stacked bunch and it should be, these are the best mares on the grounds,” Harwood said.
“My horse is training better than ever,” she added. “When Carrabelle’s at her best, she’s really tough.”
Smokin’ Grey could have the right style for trainer Frank Lucarelli. The 4-year-old Maryland-bred is four-for-eight lifetime, and was awarded first place purse money after finishing runner-up in the one-mile Chandler Stakes on the turf at Turf Paradise. A stalker, Smokin’ Grey reeled off three straight wins last summer at Emerald Downs.
The field from the rail out for Sunday’s ninth race: Exclusive Diva, Juan Gutierrez, 119 lbs; Smokin’ Grey, Isaias Enriquez, 119; You Me and Ema B, Debbie Hoonan, 119; Carrabelle Harbor, David G. Lopez, 119; E Z Kitty, Anne Sanguinetti, 121.
AS USUAL, McCANNA BARN READY TO ROLL
Although he doesn’t show a lot of outward emotion, those who know Tim McCanna well say the 51-year-old Spokane native is a fierce competitor. So the fact his long-time rival, Frank Lucarelli, has captured the last two training titles at Emerald Downs is something McCanna would like to remedy in 2013.
No. 1 all-time with 848 wins and a record 10 training titles at Emerald Downs, McCanna said he has 39 horses currently at Emerald Downs, including three horses entered on both the Friday and Saturday cards.
As much as he’d like to win an 11th title, McCanna said it could prove difficult, mainly because of an increased presence in California. He currently ranks seventh with 14 wins at Golden Gate Fields, and added he plans to also have a string at Del Mar this summer.
“I’m trying to keep a half-and-half thing with my horses, between Golden Gate and Emerald,” McCanna said.
McCanna said he has 25 2-year-olds, including 10 at Emerald Downs, and also has a 3-year-old filly to challenge the Tom Wenzel/Northwest Farms powerhouse threesome of Blueberry Smoothie, Stopshoppingdebbie and 2012 champion 2-year-old filly Goin to the Window. Sunset Time, owned by Dave Mowat’s Ten Broeck Farm, comes off fourth and fifth place finishes in turf stakes at Fair Grounds, and was fifth beaten one length in a Grade 3 last fall at Keeneland.
Another interesting McCanna newcomer is Atta Boy Lucky, a 3-year-old colt by Lucky J.H.-Irish Toast, who was scheduled to make his Emerald Downs debut Saturday in the fourth race. The half-brother to EmD champs The Great Face and Atta Boy Roy spiked a temperature, however, and McCanna said the colt would be scratched.
PROSPECTIVE STAKES RUNNERS FACE OFF SUNDAY
We’re six weeks away from the first 3-year-old stakes races, but the division begins to take shape Sunday with an $18,900 allowance event for sophomore colts and geldings. Carded at 5-½ furlongs, the race serves as prep for the $50,000 Auburn Handicap on Sunday, June 2.
Some of last year’s top juveniles are signed up for Sunday’s dash, including Finallygotabentley, Country Rules and Forin Sea. The race conditions-an allowance for 3-year-old non-winners of two-mean that last year’s 2-year-old stakes winners Music of My Soul and Mike Man’s Gold could either point for a prep race down the line or train right up to the Auburn; both horses have worked steadily over the past two months.
With those two out, Finallygotabentley should be favored Sunday. The Kentucky-bred son of Bernardini returns to Emerald Downs after a 2012 campaign that included several solid efforts highlighted by a determined runner-up finish to Top 2-Year-Old Music of My Soul in the Gottstein Futurity. Out of 2007 Top 2-Year-Old Filly Smarty Deb, Finallygotabentley undoubtedly has the pedigree to compete in stakes company this season. However, four seconds in six career starts has left trainer Tom Wenzel wondering if Finallygotabentley has developed the winning attitude that his parents once possessed.
“He’s such a good horse that I couldn’t find many horses from my barn to breeze with him,” Wenzel said. “The thing with him is, does he have the killer instinct? We won’t know that until he shows it.”
Finallygotabentley’s grit could be tested against likes of Country Rules and Forin Sea. The former finished only a half-length back from Finallygotabentley in last year’s WTBOA Lads and has rattled off six straight bullet workouts including a blistering 5-½ furlong work in :57 1/5 (1/25) leading up to Sunday’s bout. The latter obliterated a maiden allowance field by 8-½ lengths on 2012’s closing day, and according to trainer Doris Harwood, is training better than any horse in the barn.
“I think Forin Sea is as good as any stakes horse on the grounds including Music of My Soul,” said Harwood who conditions both horses. “I look forward to running against Finallygotabentley on Sunday. It’s going to be a fun race.”
The field from the rail out for Sunday’s ninth race: Forin Sea, Isaias Enriquez, 122 lbs; Scat Daddybaby, David G. Lopez, 122; Finallygotabentley, Juan Gutierrez, 122; Country Rules, Debbie Hoonan, 122; Bound to Win, J. Luis Torres.
“EMERALD DOWNS LIVE” AND CSN TEAM UP AGAIN
“Emerald Downs Live” returns to Comcast SportsNet Northwest on Saturday, kicking off the season-long special, which features the track’s entire live race card including exclusive interviews with various horsemen.
The four-hour program airs live from 2-6 p.m. every Saturday until the September when the programming schedule then switches to Sundays.
Hosted by Joe Withee, the CSN show has added two new full-time members to its broadcast team. Media Relations’ Jacob Pollowitz, a fill-in sideline reporter and guest handicapper throughout last year’s program, will sit alongside Withee as the show’s new co-host. While CSN’s Jamie Hudson assumes full-time duties as the show’s sideline reporter after sharing a similar role last season.
EMERALD DOWNS INTRODUCES NEW WAGER,
AND IT’S AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE!
Emerald Downs received approval to introduce an innovative wager throughout the live race meet that begins Friday.
123racing is a $2 wager that emulates the format of a Pick-6 ticket, but with a twist. Unlike a traditional Pick 6, the bettors survive each leg no matter where their horse finishes. Contestants may use multiple horses per race, but of course, each additional combination increases the cost of the ticket.
Instead of trying to “survive” six races in a row, participants attempt to accrue points equivalent to their choices’ cumulative win, place and show payoffs. The point’s leader after the six races wins the day’s contest; second and third-place finishers also receive payouts.
Furthermore, 123racing provides a unique nickname that is printed on each ticket. Participants can then use their assigned nickname to track their progress on the site’s leader board, which is updated after each race.
Contestants must be on track to participate and can wager with a mutuel teller or at any SAM Machine. For more information about 123gaming Inc. or the 123racing wager, please visit www.123racing.info.
NOTES: As of Thursday afternoon, 894 horses were stabled at Emerald Downs, up 68 horses from opening day 2012*Apprentice Maggie Hardison looks to hit a home run with her first career mount as the 29-year-old apprentice rides Binky’s Sister in Friday’s season-opening card*Speaking of home runs, 2012 riding champ Juan Gutierrez throws out the first pitch at the Mariners-Baltimore Orioles game, Tuesday, April 30, at Safeco Field*Named on 23 horses this weekend, Gutierrez has a good chance to reach 1,000 career wins at Emerald Downs. With 995 wins at EmD, Gutierrez ranks second to Gallyn Mitchell (1,347 wins) on the track’s all-time list*A pair of local champions are in action this weekend around the continent: 2012 Horse of the Meet Class Included is the 5-to-2 second choice in a $66,000 allowance race on the turf Friday at Keeneland (Race 4, 11:28 a.m. PDT). Finding More, a daughter of Trickey Trevor who beat out Roveing Patrol for state champion 2-year-old filly, is 2-to-1 in Saturday’s $150,000 Star Shooter for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine (Race 8, 1:36 p.m.)*Emerald Downs’ new feature, Thoroughbreds: After the Finish Line, begins this week with Snackbasket the featured horse. A 17-year-old Washington-bred gelding, Snackbasket’s new career includes show jumping, dressage and cross-country events. Each feature, including pictures and video, are available atemeralddowns.com*2011 Belle Roberts winner Sweet Nellie Brown and Perfect Pie, a seven-time winner over the past two seasons, face off in Saturday’s sub-feature, a $25,000 claiming race for older fillies and mares at 5-½ furlongs*Newcomer’s Day festivities on Saturday include Emerald Ed at 12:30 p.m. in the Emerald Room. The opener takes a look at handicapping and wagering basics*A pair of the track’s top older handicap horses were in action Thursday morning, as Winning Machine (:59 1/5) and Kooky Saluki (1:00) both worked five furlongs*2011 Top 2-Year-Old Male Chu and I is back at Emerald Downs and breezed three furlongs in :37 2/5*2011 Auburn Handicap winner Showme Yourfriends won a $58,000 allowance/optional claimer last week on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, earning a $34,800 check for trainer Tim McCanna and owners Ray McCanna, Dean Mazzuca and Don Hopwood. Mazzuca is well known at Emerald Downs as track announcer Robert Geller’s backup. Speaking of Geller, Sunland Park closed Tuesday and he’ll be on hand Friday to begin his 18th season calling races from atop the EmD grandstand*Sunday’s fifth race is a $17,000 maiden special weight for 3-year-olds, featuring the return of He’s Not Bluffin, a Raise the Bluff gelding who finished second beaten a nose by Master’s Bluff in the 2012 Slewdledo Stakes. Gutierrez, who rode He’s Not Bluffin in his lone start last year, elects to ride first-time starter Ankeny Hill for trainer Chris Stenslie. Gutierrez and Stenslie were almost unstoppable last season while combining to win 15-of-27 starts. J. Luis Torres, the 2012 Portland Meadows riding champ with 86 wins, has the mount on He’s Not Bluffin for trainer Jim Penney*Trainer Jeff Metz apparently means business, with 13 horses entered opening week including five apiece Saturday and Sunday*And finally, it wouldn’t be Emerald Downs without Wasserman, and indeed the track’s all-time leading earner begins his ninth season here in Saturday’s $18,900 allowance/claiming feature at six furlongs. Jennifer Whitaker rides the 11-year-old gelding for owner/trainer Howard Belvoir, in a field that includes Polish Dollar, 10-for-28 at Emerald Downs, and Our Eagle Boy, winner of the 2011 Chinook Pass Stakes.