The 78th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) is four months away, but things already are beginning to take shape.
Sunday, a stellar field of eight 3-year-olds and up race 5-½ furlongs in a $21,000 allowance race designed as prep for the May 19 Governor’s Handicap. The lineup includes last year’s top local older horse, Winning Machine, last year’s top 3-year-old, Makors Finale, as well as 2009 Longacres Mile winner Assessment, and 2012 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic winner Kooky Saluki.
For Makors Finale, Sunday’s race marks the season debut for the 2012 Washington Horse of the Year and his first race against older horses. The only horse to win four stakes at Emerald Downs in 2012, Makors Finale spent the winter at Pegasus Training and Rehabilitation Center in Redmond, and rejoined trainer Tom Wenzel’s Emerald Downs string in February.
Owned and bred by Karl Krieg, Makors Finale was 5-2-0 in eight starts last year with earnings of $140,370. Overall, the Makors Mark colt is 6-4-0 in 12 starts with earnings of $154,770.
Winning Machine makes his first start since a sixth vs. Game On Dude in the Grade I Awesome Again last September at Santa Anita. Before that, the Toccet gelding ran the race of his life while finishing second to Taylor Said in the Longacres Mile.
D’honorable One, chief competition for Makors Finale in last year’s sophomore ranks, runs as a first-time gelding Sunday. Rounding out the field are Edge Forward, 2-1-0 in three career sprints, and Northwest newcomers Hoist and Drift King.
Kooky Saluki, voted the state’s Most Improved Plater after winning four races last year, enters the race on a three-race win streak including a victory over Couldabenthewhisky and Jebrica in the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic last September. The 5-year-old Washington-bred by Tribunal might be better around two turns, although he did win his 2012 debut at 5 ½ furlongs.
An 8-year-old Florida-bred, Drift King was claimed for $25,000 last month at Santa Anita and has earned $312,932 in a 39-race career. The gray son of Concorde’s Tune has raced mainly on turf the last few years, but trainer Jeff Metz won four races opening week at Emerald Downs.
Hoist, owned by North American Thoroughbred Racing Co. and trained by Mike Puhich, has the same connections as 2012 Longacres Mile winner Taylor Said. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Mineshaft, Hoist has three career wins*two at Belmont Park and one at Saratoga*and finished third in the 2012 B.C. Derby at Hastings Racecourse.
The $18,900 sub-feature for fillies and mares features 4-year-old Royal Moses, runner-up in four stakes the last two years at Emerald Downs, and 3-year-old Valid Vixen Queen, winner of the 2012 Son of Briartic Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
The field from the rail out for Sunday’s eighth race: Drift King, Anne Sanguinetti, 122 lbs; Edge Forward, Ronald Richard, 120; Hoist, Isaias Enriquez, 120; Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 120; Kooky Saluki, Juan Gutierrez, 120; Makors Finale, Rocco Bowen, 120; D’honorable One, David G. Lopez, 120; Assessment, Jennifer Whitaker, 120.
A SHOE-SHINING EXAMPLE OF LOVING WORK AT EmD
The saying “Labor of Love” has been a familiar adage expressed by Emerald Downs’ employees throughout its 18-year history. For Shoeshine Specialists Morgan and Patsy Perkins, that phrase fits them perfect.
Married for 47 years, the Perkins recently completed their first week at the track’s shoeshine stand, where race fans, horsemen and track employees receive first-class treatment on their posh footwear. Thrilled with his new venture, Morgan Perkins said the first weekend showed great promise and he expects a fun 2013 season.
“I think the potential is wonderful here,” he said. “I hope to be around for another 10 or 15 years.”
Before arriving at Emerald Downs, the Perkins had worked the same position at Nordstrom for more than 35 years. In fact, it was Morgan Perkins’ brainchild to have shoeshine stands put into retail stores. In 1974, he pitched the idea to Nordstrom’s chief store in downtown Seattle. Now shoeshine stands are a fixture at Nordstroms across the country.
Shoe shining, a practiced tradition in horse racing, has become an art form for the Perkins, and it was only fitting that the Perkins and Emerald Downs would cross paths. Just a few months since retiring from Nordstrom, Morgan Perkins decided he couldn’t sit still any longer.
“My dad once told me ‘if you sit down, you stay down’,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit down any longer, so here I am at Emerald Downs.”
Located on Track Level, the shoeshine stand is open during live racing hours, Friday thru Sunday, throughout the race meet.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Chris Stenslie (ties opening week record with six wins, including career-high four wins, Saturday, April 20: Jockey-Juan Gutierrez (seven wins, becomes second jockey with 1,000 wins at EmD);Owner-Dr. Rodney Orr (three wins); Groom-Salvador Aranda (three wins); Washington-bred: Sweet Nellie Brown*Debbie Pabst of Blue Ribbon Farm said Atta Boy Roy has covered 29 mares in his first year at stud including Brown, dam of Washington-bred Of The Week Sweet Nellie Brown*Eliska Kubinova has re-hired David Singer as her jockey’s agent. With Singer booking mounts, Kubinova set a single-season apprentice mark with 75 wins last year*Exclusive Diva earned a career-high 85 Beyer for her neck victory over E Z Kitty (84 Beyer) in Sunday’s $21,000 allowance feature. Exclusive Diva (9-6-2-1-$147,071) ran 5-½ furlongs in 1:01.56*Polish Dollar earned the week’s biggest figure, an 86, for his 1:08.09 clocking in Saturday’s feature for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. The 7-year-old gelding is 11-for-29 at Emerald Downs and ranks fourth among active runners for most wins. Olympic Lights leads with 14, followed by Noosa Beach, 13, and Wasserman, 12*Fighting City Hall’s $93.60 win mutuel in Sunday’s fifth race was the largest at Emerald Downs since Showme Yourfriends returned $102.40 in the 2011 Auburn Handicap. A 10-year-old gelding Fighting City Hall has 10 wins in a 76-race career that began Jan. 15, 2006, with a 4-½-length victory in a $40,000 maiden claimer at Santa Anita. Runner-up to Da Stoops in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2006, Fighting City Hall has been claimed eight times including once for $80,000 by Jeff Mullins in 2007*Gallant Son (9-2) and defending champion Hudson Landing (10-1) are among 10 older horses entered in Saturday’s $250,000 San Francisco Mile (G3) on the turf at Golden Gate Fields. Post time is 3:15 p.m*Sunday at Golden Gate, Washington-bred Special Summer attempts to remain undefeated in a $29,000 allowance/optional claimer at six furlongs on the artificial Tapeta surface. Co-owned by Tim McCanna and Billie Klokstad, the 3-year-old filly by Free At Last-Summer Sails has romped by 6 ½ and 2 ¼ lengths in her first two starts*Evelyn’s Dancer is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the $50,000 Brighouse Belles for older fillies and mares Saturday at Hastings Racecourse. The 4-year-old Songandaprayer filly had her four-race win streak snapped by Class Included in the Grade 3 Ballerina last September*Candy for Debbie, a two-time winner under Kubinova here last year, has shipped to Betfair Hollywood Park and competes Sunday in a 1-1/16-mile claimer for older horses on cushion track.