It’s getting to be one of the most familiar sights at Emerald Downs; the historic black, silver and red silks of Northwest Farms in the Winner’s Circle after a stakes race.
That was the case again Sunday, as Exclusive Diva powered through the lane to score a 1 ¼-length victory over 4-to-5 betting favorite E Z Kitty in the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes for older fillies and mares.
Ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 poounds, Exclusive Diva ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.88 and paid $5.20, $2.40 and $2.20. Tom Wenzel is the trainer for owners Northwest Farms and Debbie Paxton.
E Z Kitty, ridden by Anne Sanguinetti at 122 lbs, gamely held second place and paid $2.40 and $2.10.
Gosailgo, a 44-to-1 long shot ridden by Debbie Hoonan at 116 lbs, rallied to finish third and paid $6.
The result was a reversal of the May 12 Hastings Handicap, in which E Z Kitty rolled to a two-length victory over Exclusive Diva in 1:08.26 for six furlongs. It also was the third straight stakes win for the team of trainer Wenzel and owner Northwest Farms*nom de course for Jerre Paxton of Seattle.
The Wenzel-Paxton team clicked with Stopshoppingdebbie in the May 26 Seattle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, and Finallygotabentlry in the June 2 Auburn Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings. Finallygotabentley and Exclusive Diva are co-owned by Debbie Paxton.
And with 24 stakes remaining, Wenzel rates a fair chance to break the single-season training record of 12 wins set by Doris Harwood in 2007 and 2009. However, the stoic 46-year-old Tacoma native would rather talk about Exclusive Diva, now a four-time stakes winner and 6-1-0 in seven career sprints.
“She’s a little filly, barely 15 hands, but she has a big heart,” Wenzel said of Exclusive Diva.
A Kentucky-bred By Bernardini-Puxa Saco, Exclusive Diva has an overall mark of 7-3-1 in 11 starts with earnings of $184,571, and has won stakes at age 2, 3 and 4.
“I’ve ridden this filly every time and every time she gives 100 percent,” Gutierrez said. “The plans changed a little bit after the break. I thought if we broke sharp we’d take the lead but I saw (Plus One) and E Z Kitty wanted to go for the lead, so I waited for the quarter-pole. She always tries hard at the quarter-pole. I think she has a second gear over there.”
Exclusive Diva settled into fourth place, as Plus One led through fractions of:22.09 for the quarter-mile and :44.56 for the half. Both E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva moved up to challenge midway on the turn, and from there it was a virtual match race to the wire*only this time Exclusive Diva was the winner.
“This race set up exactly like the Hastings, I thought we were in good shape,” Sanguinetti said. “I don’t know if it was because it was a little warmer today but she just wasn’t quite as strong.
“It wasn’t like we got beat by a bad horse today. I think they are great rivals for each other. One of them will get the better of the other one on one day and then it will go the other way the next day. I’m not disappointed in E Z Kitty at all. She made it a good race.”
Castinette Dancer, a shipper from Hastings Racecourse, finished fourth, followed by Plus One and Champagneandcaviar.
NOTES: David G. Lopez enjoyed a big day with his first three-win day at Emerald Downs including a victory by Country Rules ($6.80) in the $18,900 sub-feature for 3-year-olds. A Washington-bred by Tribal Rule-Country Whirl, Country Rules is owned and bred by Sue and Tim Spooner and trained by Dan Markle*Juan Gutierrez and Isaias Enriquez each rode two winners and Gutierrez leads Enriquez 40-33 in the Thoroughbred standings*Jockey Louis Zacherle also had a big day with two wins*one Quarter Horse, one Thoroughbred*including another fast victory by 6-year-old gelding Chaching Pete ($7.20) in race seven. Owned and trained by Preston Boyd, Chaching Pete ran six furlongs in 1:08.50 to defeat Come Away Home and 16-time Emerald Downs’ winner Olympic Lights. Chaching Pete is two-for-two at the meet and has won four straight overall, including two wins at Sun Downs in Kennewick*Congrats to Emerald Downs’ own Joe Withee, co-owner of third-race winner Hardbody ($4). Trained by Tim McCanna, the 4-year-old Hard Spun filly is 2-2-0 in four starts at the meet. *McCanna had two wins Sunday and is up to third overall with 12 wins* Enriquez and Doris Harwood combined for four wins this week, capped by a gate-to-wire score by Orlando Xpress ($7.80) in race five*In addition to the runner-up stakes finish with E Z Kitty, Jeff Metz sent out Sea Side Story for a $24.80 upset in race nine and leads Chris Stenslie 18-16 in the trainers’ standings*Metz and jockey Anne Sanguinetti are a combined 13-for-59 at the meeting*I Think So ($3.50) captured the $50,000 Emerald Downs Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings Racecourse. Emerald Downs’ Director of Marketing Sophia McKee was in Vancouver to serve as honorary steward*Live racing continues Friday with first post 6:45 p.m.