Sports

E Z Kitty held off Exclusive Diva in $50,000 Hastings Handicap

E Z Kitty held off Exclusive Diva in a furious stretch battle and scored a two-length victory Sunday in the $50,000 Hastings Handicap for older fillies and mares at Emerald Downs.

Ridden by Anne Sanguinetti at high-weight of 121 lbs., E Z Kitty ran six furlongs in 1:08.26 and paid $5.60, $2.60 and $2.10. Jeff Metz is the trainer for owner Bruce Maller of Incline Village NV.

The winning time tied the stakes record set by No Flies On Doodle in 2010, and it was the first Emerald Downs stakes win for the trainer, jockey and owner.

Exclusive Diva, undefeated in five previous sprints at Emerald Downs, challenged the winner in mid-stretch but E Z Kitty was too tough and drew clear in the final yards. Ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 lbs, Exclusive Diva, the 4-to-5 betting favorite, paid $2.20 and $2.10.

Plus One, the early leader ridden by David G. Lopez at 118 lbs., held third and paid $3.20 to show. Gosailgo, Royal Moses, Maggie’s Special and Smokin’ Grey completed the order of finish. Champagneandcaviar was scratched earlier in the day.

Now a triple stakes winner at both Emerald Downs and Turf Paradise, E Z Kitty has an overall record of 10-2-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $182,873. A 5-year-old Washington-bred mare by He’s Tops-Envision the Cat, E Z Kitty was purchased privately in March and has paid a quick dividend for her new connections, compiling a first and a second in two starts with earnings of $31,700.

“She’s a nice filly to train, high energy,” Metz said. “Everything came together today. It was very exciting.”

Breaking from the No. 7 post, E Z Kitty pressed the pace as Plus One led through a quarter-mile in :22.12, then moved to the lead on the turn after a half in :44.55. E Z Kitty straightened into the lane with a narrow lead over Plus One, and from there it was a matter of whether Exclusive Diva could sweep past for the victory.

Exclusive Diva edged E Z Kitty by a neck in a 5 ½-furlong allowance race last month, but E Z Kitty wouldn’t be denied this time.

“I really thought the extra distance would be in her favor,” Sanguinetti said. “I knew from the quarter-pole they weren’t going to run her down today, she’s not going to let them by her.

“The game plan was to play it from the break, and just see what she wanted to do. She’s multi-dimensional and can do anything you ask her. She broke loaded with run so I went on with it. I wanted to sit as long as I could because I knew what kind of horse was trying to run her down, and then she did the rest. She’s like a Ferrari.”

Gutierrez said Exclusive Diva, who had led at the stretch call in eight of her nine previous races including four stakes wins, said the break might have been costly. Accustomed to being on or near the lead, Exclusive Diva was in fourth place on the backstretch.

“I knew E Z Kitty and Plus One would be tough to beat in this race,” Gutierrez said. “This stakes division is going to be tough all year. The break was the biggest difference today. E Z Kitty broke really sharp and my horse had to try a little harder to catch up on the outside of the track. My filly is pretty nice, she just got beat.”

Next up for the older filly and mare division is the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on Sunday, June 9.

NOTES: Jockey Ronald Richard had his first three-win day at Emerald Downs while Sanguinetti and Isaias Enriquez rode two winners each on the 10-race Mothers Day card* Sanguinetti and Metz also clicked in race four with Scent of Chrism ($5.20)*Gutierrez kept his streak alive with a triumph on Amazing Legacy ($5.20) in race six. Gutierrez now has ridden at least one winner on the first 12 racing days of the season, breaking the mark of 11 straight days set in 1999 by the late Jose Alferez*Gutierrez leads Enriquez 22-15 atop the jockeys’ standings*Trainers Metz, Blaine Wright and Terry Gillihan all had two wins Sunday*Chris Stenslie saddled first-time starter Walllula Bluffs ($17.20) to a 3 ¾-length win in race three and leads Metz 13-10 in the trainers’ standings*Roarified improved to 9-for-13 lifetime with a four-length victory in race two for new owners Michael Pollowitz and Jeffrey Wilson. A 5-year-old Washington-bred mare by Roar, Roarified became the third horse with two wins at the meet*Polish Dollar ($2.40) won the $18,900 sub-feature in 1:08.70 for six furlongs. The 7-year-old Washington-bred gelding is two-for-two at the meet and 12-for-30 lifetime at Emerald Downs*Trainer Larry Ross finished first and second in race five, as Exchng Traded Funds ($5.60) came off a three-month break for the win and Prince Giddyup came off an eight-month hiatus to dead-heat for second with Just Say It*.At Hastings Racecourse, Proud Victor ($8.20) defeated 3-to-2 favorite Bridge Jumper in the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Fernando Perez rode the winner for trainer Greg Tracy*Live racing resumes Friday with a special first post time of 6:15 p.m. The first two races are Quarter Horse events, followed by six Thoroughbred races.

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