Jebrica rallied boldly and notched a three-quarter-length victory over Stryker Phd in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up Sunday before a packed house on Father’s Day at Emerald Downs.
Defending champion Winning Machine finished third and Why Not Be Perfect was fourth.
Makors Finale and Hoist, co-favored at 5-to-2 in the wagering, weakened to finish fifth and sixth respectively.
Ridden by Isaias Enriquez at 118 lbs, Jebrica ran one mile in 1:34.72 and paid $23.20, $10.80 and $6.80. Jim Penney is the trainer for owners Ron and Rosalie Warren of Olympia, Wash.
For Enriquez, it was his first stakes win at Emerald Downs, and his three-win day pulled him within one win of leading rider Juan Gutierrez in the jockeys’ standings. For Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney, it was his 46th stakes win at Emerald Downs, good for No. 2 on the all-time list.
Stryker Phd, with David G. Lopez riding at 118 lbs, flew from last place to finish second and paid $20.60 and $8.80. It was the second straight runner-up finish for the 4-year-old Bertrando gelding, who finished second to Hoist in the May 19 Governor’s Handicap. Dismissed at 40-to-1 in the Governor’s, Stryker Phd went off at 19-to-1 in the Budweiser.
Winning Machine, ridden by Javier Matias at 119 lbs, was a half-length back in third and paid $5.40.
Why Not Be Perfect, a 7-to-1 long shot ridden by Anne Sanguinetti at 121 lbs, finished fourth, and the $1 superfecta returned a season-high $8,203.20.
Makors Finale, bidding for a fifth straight victory dating to last August, got caught in a speed duel with Winning Machine*setting pressured factions of :22.90, :45.38 and 1:09.08*and faded slightly late to finish fifth. Hoist, Assessment, Rocky’s Quest and Kooky Saluki completed the order of finish.
“He just got outrun today,” jockey Rowen Bowen said of Makors Finale. “He ran well. It just wasn’t his day.”
It was Jebrica’s day, however, as the 5-year-old gelding displayed the form that earned him honors as the track’s Top 3-Year-Old Male of 2011. In sixth place early, Jebrica commenced a bid on the last turn, eased out into the stretch and gradually wore down Winning Machine and Makors Finale for the victory.
“I had a very good trip,” Enriquez said. “At the three-eighths pole, I had two horses next to me and I asked my horse a little bit and right away I got ahead of those two.
“I asked my horse a little more at the five-sixteenths pole and he started getting closer and closer. By the three-sixteenths pole, I knew the race was mine. I didn’t hear anybody coming until I heard (Stryker Phd) flying at the end. It feels nice to get my first stakes win (at Emerald Downs).”
A Washington-bred by Liberty Gold-Peaceful Wings, Jebrica has a 6-3-3 record in 20 starts with earnings of $256,905. Sunday’s win was worth $27,500.
The Budweiser is the next-to-last prep for the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 18, and Penney has saddled a record five winners in the Northwest’s biggest race.
Winning Machine, second in last year’s Mile, was back on the beam Sunday as the 7-year-old gelding overtook Makors Finale nearing the eighth pole and held on well to the end.
“Last time he just had a bad race,” Matias said referring to an eighth place finish ion the May 19 Governor’s Handicap. “Like people, he just had a bad day.
“He runs better races when he’s closer to the pace. I was pushing him a little bit and probably used too much too early, so he got a little tired. But he ran great. To me, he’s back.” Next up for 3-year-olds and up is the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at one and one-sixteenth miles on Sunday, July 21.
NOTES: Enriquez has 13 multiple win days and trails Gutierrez 41-40 in the jockeys’ standings*Lopez, Bowen and Eliska Kubinova had two wins apiece on the 11-race program*Congratulations to Rick & Debbie Pabst of Buckley, Wash. In addition to being the breeders of Jebrica, they also bred See My Tail Lites and Sunpenny, the first and second-place finishers in Sunday’s third race for maiden special weight 2-year-old fillies. Ridden by Gutierrez and trained by Jim Penney, See My Tail Lites ($6.40) led gate-to-wire in :51.53 for 4 ½ furlongs. The winner, by Matty G, is the seventh winning foal out of Lite Nite*4-year-old Washington-bred filly River of Aces ($12.80) improved to five-for-10 lifetime with a gate-to-wire victory in race eight for $25,000 claiming fillies and mares. Trained by Charles Essex and ridden by Kubinova, River of Aces ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.36, including sizzling splits of :21.77, :43.87 and 1:08.53*Jeff Metz leads Chris Stenslie 19-18 in the trainers’ standings, but Tim McCanna had two more wins Sunday and is up to third place with 15 wins*Washington-bred 5-year-old mare Special Holiday, third to Class Included in two stakes last year at Emerald Downs, scored a 16-to-1 upset in a five-furlong turf sprint for $20,000 claimers on closing day at Golden Gate Fields. Frank Lucarelli is the trainer for owner David Taylor*The California Fair meets begin Thursday with opening day of the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton*Live racing at Emerald Downs resumes Friday with first post 6:45 p.m. Sixty horses are entered on the seven-race card, an average of 8.8 runners per race.