Tough Road Ahead takes Friday feature | Emerald Downs

Tough Road Ahead out-finished long shot He’s a Cruiser and notched a two-length victory Friday in the $12,700 Jim Beam Purse for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.

With Ronald Richard riding, Tough Road Ahead ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.13 on a fast track and paid $6.60, $4 and $2.60. Charles Essex is the trainer for owner Helen Mahre of Wapato, Wash.

A 4-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Cahill Road, Tough Road Ahead was stakes-placed last year against Washington Horse of the Year Makors Finale, and won three races and nearly $30,000 in purses. Friday, Tough Road Ahead sprinted to a clear early lead, set fractions of :22, :44.29 and :55.93, was headed into the stretch by 32-to-1 He’s a Cruiser, before regaining command and edging clear.

He’s a Cruiser, ridden by David G. Lopez, paid $20.20 and $7.80. Advancement, a 16-to-1 long shot ridden by Jennifer Whitaker, held third and paid $11.40. Dare Me Devil and Rezar, co-favorites at 5-to-2, finished fourth and fifth, followed by Hard Slider and Marvin’s Magic.

Richard, a newcomer to Emerald Downs, picked up the mount on Tough Road Ahead after J. Luis Torres, the jockey named to ride Sunday at entry time, injured and ankle Monday in a training accident.

Tough Road Ahead is 4-1-2 in eight career starts with earnings of $36,798. Miatough, dam of Tough Road Ahead, was a stakes winner at Emerald Downs.

NOTES: After a winless opening week, trainer Tim McCanna was on a major roll Friday night, sweeping races three, four and five with A K Racer ($2.80), Hardbody ($3) and Train Freeze ($5). McCanna now leads Frank Lucarelli 851-719 in the track’s all-time standings*The first DQ of the meet occurred in race one as Mister Q.P. and jockey Rocco Bowen finished first but were placed second behind Eagle Butte ($12.60) and jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores. Mister Q.P. and Eagle Butte raced head-and-head through the stretch, exchanging bumps, and the stewards ruled Mister Q.P. drifted out and interfered with Eagle Butte*Also in the first, the two Robbie Baze-trained runners*Maniacal Passion and Something Magic*dead-heated for third place*Valerie Gibson earned her first career training win as Bid for Pride ($14.60) prevailed in race two with Bowen riding. Valerie Gibson is the wife of Emerald Downs’ starter Mark Gibson* Back-up track announcer Dean Mazzuca (Two Putts for the Win Stable) is part owner of both Bid for Pride and Hardbody*Juan Gutierrez rode Sarbonne ($7) to victory in the nightcap and leads Lopez 8-5 in the jockeys’ standings. Gutierrez and Lopez each have at least one win on all four cards to date*Live racing continues Saturday with an eight-race program at 2:15 p.m* Simulcast action features the 64th running of the $100,000 San Francisco Mile (G3) on the turf at Golden Gate Fields. Several local trainers have entrants including Frank Lucarelli with 2008 Emerald Downs Top Juvenile Gallant Son, Blaine Wright with defending San Francisco Mile champion Hudson Landing and McCanna with Tribal Tribute. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Summer Hit is the 3-to-1 morning line favorite.

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