Makors Finale, 2012 Washington Horse of the Year, makes his first stakes appearance of the year Sunday in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at one mile.
Although he missed the May 19 Governor’s Handicap because of a minor foot ailment, the 4-year-old Makors Mark colt made a seamless return to action with a half-length victory in a June 1 allowance race. It was Makors Finale’s second straight win at the meet*both in allowance sprints*and his fourth straight victory overall.
Wenzel said Makors Finale should be ready for Sunday’s one-mile test*Makors Finale is three-for-three lifetime at the distance.
“He should have no fitness issues for the stakes,” Wenzel said. “We were able to get all his fitness back with that last prep race. It will just be a matter of whether or not he’s good enough to beat these good horses.”
Wenzel might be modest, but his training prowess is not. The 47-year-old conditioner has won the last three Emerald Downs stakes races with Stopshoppingdebbie in the May 26 Seattle Handicap, Finallygotabentley in the June 2 Auburn Handicap and Exclusive Diva in the June 9 Washington State Legislators Stakes. In fact, if this keeps up, he could be taking aim at Doris Harwood’s single-season record of 12 stakes wins set in 2007 and 2009.
Makors Finale already defeated six of his eight Budweiser opponents in the April 28 allowance race that served as the prep for the Governor’s. In his wake that day was Hoist, who rebounded from a third vs. Makors Finale to drill seven rivals in the Governor’s Handicap.
Owned and bred by Karl Krieg of Oak Harbor, Makors Finale is 8-4-0 in 14 career starts with earnings of $179,891. High-weighted at 122 lbs with Rocco Bowen named to ride, Makors Finale drew the No. 1 post-position, which normally is an advantage in routes at Emerald Downs. Makors Finale is two-for-two from the one-hole, scoring victories in the one-mile Coca-Cola Handicap and the 1-1/8-mile Emerald Derby.
In the 2012 Chinook Pass Stakes, Makors Finale set a record for largest winning margin in an Emerald Downs stakes race, 15 lengths, and earned a 90 Beyer for his 1:34.75 clocking at one mile.
While several key factors point to a Makors Finale victory, the race is far from a lay-up. Among contenders, defending champion Winning Machine has something to prove. The 7-year-old gelding must rebound from a rare off-the-board finish in the Governor’s, but Winning Machine has finished first, second or third in 20 of 30 career starts at Emerald Downs.
Hoist blitzed his foes with a powerful front-running victory in the Governor’s, but drew the outside No. 9 post-position, and jockey Aaron Gryder will have to avoid a wide trip and a pace duel with Makors Finale.
Stryker Phd flew late for second in the Governor’s and would benefit from an early pace duel. The 4-year-old Bertrando gelding has run well in both career starts around two turns. Why Not Be Perfect, third in the Governor’s, also is better routing and won three stakes this winter at Turf Paradise.
Kooky Saluki and Jebrica, both trained by Jim Penney, also are proven around two turns, and Jebrica finished a good fourth in his season debut vs. Makors Finale.
· The Budweiser Handicap is race nine Sunday, with post time at 5:56 p.m.
· Multiple graded stakes winner Hudson Landing was nominated to the Budweiser but trainer Blaine Wright opted to keep the 6-year-old gelding at Golden Gate Fields. Rocky’s Quest represents the Wright barn in the Budweiser.
· Frank Lucarelli, trainer of Winning Machine, has a case of seconditis this season at Emerald Downs. The two time defending training champion has 21 seconds in 67 starts this season.
The field from the rail out for the 18th running of the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap: Makors Finale, Rocco Bowen, 122 lbs.; Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 119; Rocky’s Quest, Juan Gutierrez, 116; Jebrica, Isaias Enriquez, 117; Stryker Phd, Debbie Hoonan, 114; Assessment, Jennifer Whitaker, 115; Kooky Saluki, Cassie Papineau, 116; Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 121; Hoist, Aaron Gryder, 119.
MITCHELL FUNDRAISER STACKED WITH AUCTION ITEMS,
GARY STEVENS DONATES PREAKNESS WHIP TO CAUSE
Emerald Downs Director of Merchandising Kerry Dalton was busy Thursday organizing an amazing collection of items for auction Saturday evening at Emerald Downs. The proceeds will help defray the considerable medical costs incurred by Gallyn Mitchell, Emerald Downs all-time leading rider, after he suffered a heart attack in April.
“The Gallyn Mitchell Fundraiser” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Emerald Room (4th floor) with the track’s own Joe Withee serving as emcee/auctioneer. Cost is $15 per person and includes pasta buffet, cash bar and silent and live auctions.
In an effort to alleviate some of Mitchell’s financial burden, the racing community has stepped up and contributed over 100 items for auction. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, for example, donated the whip he used while riding Oxbow to victory in last month’s Preakness Stakes. Other items include a pair of riding boots signed by every jockey who rode in this year’s Kentucky Derby, a pair of Del Mar box seats for the track’s entire 2013 season, jockey Corey Nakatani’s saddle, whip and riding pants, and one week in trainer Larry and Sharon Ross’s condo in Hawaii.
While the 50-year-old Mitchell has recovered well, the medical expenses have been formidable.
“It’s pretty overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve heard about some of the items. It’s just amazing how people have gone out of their way to help out. In horse racing it’s always about beating the other person, but when someone’s in need, people don’t think twice about helping out.”
BIG FIELDS DRAWN FOR FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND
Director of Racing Bret Anderson and his team have assembled a strong weekend of racing with big fields throughout the weekend.
Friday’s seven-race card drew 69 horses*9.85 per race*and both the Saturday and Sunday cards average over eight runners per race.
Sunday is Father’s Day and per Emerald Downs custom the first 7,000 fans will receive free Emerald Downs ball caps. Sunday also is the season’s first Family Fun Day, featuring free entertainment and activities for kids in the North Park. Weather permitting, the little ones can enjoy pony rides, face painting, laser tag, wax hands and a bounce house.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Doris Harwood (5-4-0-0); Jockey-David G. Lopez (18-4-3-1); Owners-Michael Pollowitz & Jeffrey Wilson (2-2-0-0); Groom-Vikki Berkram (trainer Marcie Riley); Washington-bred: She’sontopyodeling (breeder Bill Nooney)*Speaking of owner/breeder Nooney, he and trainer Robbie Baze are on a four-race winning streak: Jadey Baby ($6.60)May 11; She’sontopyodeling ($11.80), May 24; Just Gonna Be ($63.60), June 8, and She’sontopyodeling ($10), June 8*Exclusive Diva earned a 78 Beyer for her 1¼-length victory in the Washington State Legislators Stakes*First-time starter Scrapmetal King earned a healthy 76 for his 2¼-length win in 1:09.11 for six furlongs. The Blaine Wright trainee is a 3-year-old First Samurai gelding that sold for $47,000 as a 2-year-old*6-year-old gelding Chaching Pete got a career-high 78 for his 1 ¼-length victory in 1:08.50 for six furlongs vs. $10,000 claimers. ’Pete has rattled off four straight gate-to-wire wins for owner-trainer Preston Boyd and jockey Louis Zacherle*Saturday’s fifth race, the Steve Kelley Retirement Purse, honors the Seattle Times sports columnist whose February retirement ended a 31-year run at Washington’s largest daily newspaper*Seven different female riders have mounts Saturday at Emerald Downs, and in the fifth race six of the nine jockeys are women*Anne Sanguinetti and Debbie Hoonan, each with 14 Thoroughbred wins through Sunday, are tied for sixth place in the standings. Hoonan also has retaken the No. 1 spot from Jennifer Whitaker, 421-415,as the track’s all-time leading female rider*With the meet exactly one-third complete*25 days down, 50 to go*leading rider Juan Gutierrez is on pace for a career-high 120 wins. And with 40 wins in 150 mounts, his 26.6 win percentage is slightly ahead of last year’s single-season track record winning percentage of 26.5 percent*Gutierrez is off Friday and Saturday to attend his daughter’s graduation at University of California-Davis*Isaias Enriquez ranks second with 33 wins and is on pace to finish just shy of 100 wins. Only seven times in the track’s 17-year history has a rider ridden 100 winners and failed to win the title*Gutierrez also is tops in earnings with $375,974, nearly $100,000 more than Enriquez*Rocco Bowen with 20 wins, Javier Matias, 18, and Lopez, 16, round out the top five*Matias needs seven wins to become the 15th rider with 300 career wins at EmD*In the trainers’ standings, newcomer Jeff Metz ranks No. 1 with 18 wins and is on pace to better the 43 wins that netted Frank Lucarelli the 2012 training title. Chris Stenslie, 16 wins, Tim McCanna, 12 wins, and Doris Harwood and Blaine Wright, 11 wins apiece, round out the top five*With three straight stakes wins under his belt, Tom Wenzel has zoomed to No. 1 in earnings with $179,436. His runners are averaging $5,981 per start*Wenzel, with 294 wins, and Terry Gillihan, with 292, are in a race to become the 10th trainer with 300 career wins at EmD*2-year-old gelding Nicolas Cajun got a 51 Beyer for his 3 ½-length victory vs. $25,000 maiden claimers on Friday, June 7, two points less than 2-year-old filly Tinkerbelle Tops earned for her five-length win a week earlier. Hoonan has ridden both 2-year-old winners, and both broke from the No. 1 post-position*Already the meet’s only three-time winner, Roarified attempts to make it four-for-four Sunday when she meets Perfect Pie and four others in a $25,000 claiming race for older fillies and mares at 6½ furlongs. A 5-year-old Washington-bred, Roarified has won five straight dating back to last September and is 10-0-0 in 14 career starts*Once again in 2013 the WTBOA Sales Incentive Program offers a $1,000 bonus to every 2-year-old sales graduate who breaks his/her maiden in a maiden special weight, $32,000 & up maiden claiming, or stakes race at Emerald Downs. There also will be a special $20,000 allowance race exclusive to WTBOA sales graduates*Speaking of 2-year-olds, on Saturday Golden Gate Fields presents the $50,000 Lost in the Fog Stakes at five furlongs. The lineup includes first-time starter Skydreamin, bred by Northwest Farms, a Sky Mesa colt that is kin to 1997 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Countess Diana*Trainer Marcie Riley, who recorded her first Emerald Downs victory with Peekaboot Postette last Saturday, said she has 12 horses stabled here including several 2-year-olds. Riley, who has trained the last several years in Alberta and Montana, recorded her first career victory with Washington-bred filly Whispering Merit, June 16, 2001 at Lethbridge*EmD fastest times (through June 9): 4 ½ F: Nicolas Cajun, :51.50, June 7; 5F: Seattle Game :56.80, April 27; 5½ F: Exclusive Diva 1:01.56, April 21; 6F: Polish Dollar 1:08.09, April 20; 6½ F: Stopshoppingdebbie 1:14.41, May 26; 1M Touch the Sun,1:35.67, June 9.