Trainer Tom Wenzel and owner Northwest Farms accomplished an Emerald Downs’ first in the May 26 Seattle Handicap by sweeping the top three spots with undefeated Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie.
All three fillies return Sunday in the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap and give Northwest Farms (Jerre Paxton) an excellent chance for a record fifth victory in the event. At one mile, the Irish Day Handicap is the first route test for 3-year-old fillies en route to the championship Washington Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on August 10.
The Irish Day Handicap is the first half of a stakes doubleheader that also features 3-year-old colts & geldings in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap at one mile.
Although none of the Paxton trio has raced beyond 6 ½ furlongs, their bloodlines scream route. The sire and dam of each were distance winners, and Shampoo, dam of Blueberry Smoothie, won the 2007 Irish Day Handicap.
“All three fillies are coming into the race very well,” Wenzel said. “In routes, it comes down being able to relax during the race and pedigree. Once a horse is fit, pedigree really takes over.”
The three Northwest Farms fillies are already stakes winners, with Goin to the Window voted the track’s Top Juvenile Filly of 2012. Stopshoppingdebbie debuted late last meet with an impressive seven-length win at six furlongs, and in her 2013 debut she equaled the stakes record while defeating Goin to the Window by 1½ lengths in 1:14.41 for 6 ½ furlongs.
“Stopshoppingdebbie and Goin to the Window are probably one, two,” Wenzel said. “But if things fall apart, Blueberry Smoothie is certainly capable of winning the race.”
· Betting favorites are just one-for-six in stakes races this season, while second choices are three-for-six. Stopshoppingdebbie at 3-to-2 in the Seattle Handicap is the only favorite to win a stakes this year.
· Trainer Tim McCanna (Sunset Time) won this race in 2005 with Queenledo, who earned honors as that year’s Top 3-Year-Old Filly.
The field from the rail out for the 18th running of the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap (Race 7, 4:52 p.m.): Strange Luck, Cassie Papineau, 113; Blueberry Smoothie, Javier Matias, 118; Polebound, Isaias Enriquez, 113; Stopshoppingdebbie, Rocco Bowen, 118; Goin to the Window, Juan Gutierrez, 119; Sunset Time, David Lopez, 116.
MUSIC OF MY SOUL SEEKS REDEMPTION
HARWOOD SEEKS FOURTH COCA-COLA TRIUMPH
When it comes to winning stakes races, trainer Doris Harwood knows how to get the job done. After all, she’s captured 56 of them at Emerald Downs, more than any trainer in track history.
On Sunday, she’ll send out Music of My Soul who makes his first stakes appearance of 2013 in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings at one mile.
“Since the last stake, we’ve schooled him several times and he’s been very much a gentleman,” Harwood said. “I have a lot of confidence in this horse. He’s been training very well, and the distance is a perfect distance for him.”
Music of My Soul, who aced his only two-turn test when he captured last year’s one-mile Gottstein Futurity, really proved his potential toward the end of the season, winning two stakes en route to Top-2-Year-Old honors. In fact, the versatile colt’s Beyer Speed Figures have improved in each of his six career starts: 31, 48, 60, 72, 74 & 79.
Besides being a full-brother to Noosa Beach, Music of My Soul also has plenty of other intangibles to back him up. His owner, Kenny Alhadeff of Elttaes Stables, won this race in 2008, kicking off three straight Coca-Cola scores for Harwood.
Speaking of improving colts, Northwest Farms’ Finallygotabentley snapped his streak of three-straight seconds with a one-length score in the 6 ½-furlong Auburn Handicap. Trainer Tom Wenzel, who won last year’s Coca-Cola Handicap with 2012 Washington Horse of the Year Makors Finale, said he wasn’t surprised to see Finallygotabentley turn the corner.
“I’ve always had high hopes for him,” Wenzel said. “I always knew there was more there. He just hadn’t quite put it all together.
“I think he should be tough on Sunday. I really like him better routing than sprinting. I just feel the longer distance suits him better.”
While Sunday’s race sports several familiar faces, the field does boast two new shooters in Texas-bred Worldventurer and Kentucky-bred Valiant Flame. The former, now trained by Blaine Wright for Peter Redekop, won three Texas-bred stakes for trainer Bret Calhoun, and the latter ships in from Golden Gate where he comes off a two-length victory in a one-mile maiden special weight race for Frank Lucarelli and R.E.V. Racing.
· Carving, trained by Mike Puhich for Pegasus Syndicate No. 4, blew out three furlongs Thursday in a bullet :35.80.
· Valiant Flame arrived Saturday, and trainer Frank Lucarelli said the Eddington gelding has trained well over the Emerald Downs surface.
· Of the eight trainers in Sunday’s stakes, six have at least one victory in the Coca-Cola Handicap.
The field from the rail out for the 18th running of the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap (Race 9, 5:50 p.m.): Worldventurer, David Lopez, 121 lbs.; Valiant Flame, Ronald Richard, 114; Finallygotabentley, Juan Gutierrez, 119; He’s Not Bluffin, Cassie Papineau, 115; Music of My Soul, Isaias Enriquez, 118; Cariboo Road, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 117; Carving, Javier Matias, 121; Mike Man’s Gold, Lorenzo Lopez, 117.
POLISH DOLLAR, CAMP GRANADA MEET AGAIN
SATURDAY IN $22,575 ALLOWANCE FEATURE
While stakes action centers on Sunday’s twin bill for sophomores, Saturday’s feature race isn’t exactly chopped liver, as Director of Racing Bret Anderson rounded up six top allowance runners to compete 6 ½ furlongs for a $22,575 purse.
Seven-year-old gelding Polish Dollar, winner of 12-of-31 starts at Emerald Downs, faces the talented but lightly-raced 5-year-old gelding Camp Granada in a rematch of their May 12 meeting in which Polish Dollar came from off the pace for a two-length victory in 1:08.70 for six furlongs.
With Bob Meeking as trainer, Polish Dollar has won six-of-11 starts while rising from $5,000 claiming to status as one of the track’s fastest sprinters. The dark bay gelding is 2-0-1 in three starts this year, all at six furlongs, including a meet fastest 1:08.09 on April 20.
Polish Dollar’s form also tells many tales of competence. Stryker Phd, third to Polish Dollar in the April 20 race, returned to run second in both the Governor’s Handicap and Budweiser Handicap.
And Polish Dollar, even though he finished third in a June 1 allowance race, might have run one of his best races. Showing his newfound versatility for rating, the former speedball battled from just off the pace, finishing only three-quarters-of-a-length behind 2012 Washington Horse of the Year Makors Finale and 2012 Top Claimer Rocky’s Quest.
Theresmyeverything, a 5-year-old New York-bred who returned from a long layoff with a sharp second to Polish Dollar on April 20, makes his second start off the bench for Mike Puhich. Ditto for Johnski, Camp Granada’s 4-year-old stable mate who made his first start in exactly a year while finishing runner-up to Camp Granada on June 2.
Forin Sea and Whistle Cat, a pair of 3-year-olds dropping from the stakes ranks, round out the talented field.
The field from the rail out for Saturday’s feature (Race 8, 5:39 p.m.): Camp Granada, David G. Lopez, 122 lbs; Forin Sea, Rocco Bowen, 116; Johnski, Isaias Enriquez, 120; Theresmyeverything, Javier Matias, 120; Whistle Cat, Lorenzo Lopez, 114; Polish Dollar, Juan Gutierrez, 122.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-David Tollett (1-1-0-0); Jockey-Isaias Enriquez (24-7-3-2); Owner-Hurricane Racing Stables LLC (2-1-0-1); Groom-Edgar Castro (trainer Tim McCanna); Washington-bred: Jebrica (breeder Rick & Debbie Pabst)*Jebrica earned an 88 Beyer, runner-up Stryker Phd an 87 and third-place finisher Winning Machine got an 86 for Sunday’s $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for 3-year-olds and up*Thoroughbred racing is a great but sometimes puzzling sport, as Jebrica demonstrated again Sunday. A distant fourth as the 3-to-2 favorite in the 2012 Budweiser, the 5-year-old gelding paid $23.20 as the sixth choice in this year’s race*”He came into the race really well, and he came out of the race really well,” said assistant trainer Kay Cooper. Next stop for Jebrica is the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday, July 21*Trainer Tom Wenzel said Budweiser fifth-place finisher Makors Finale also is headed to the Mt. Rainier. “He came out of the race fine, he just got outrun,” Wenzel said. “He’s done a lot of running the last few weeks, so I’ll take it a little easier on him leading up to the next stakes.”*Jim Penney and Ron & Rosalie Warren, trainer and owners of Jebrica, have an another interesting prospect entered in Saturday’s second race: Diner’s Diva, a 3-year-old daughter of Dehere who at $50,000 was the highest priced filly at the 2011 WTBOA yearling sale*2-year-olds race 4 ½ furlongs for a $12,500 claiming price in the Saturday opener. Among the seven entrants are Dallon’s Gold, the first foal from 10-time Emerald Downs winner Winning Weave, and Our Man Clint, a half-brother to $169,000 earner Soft Lite*Speaking of 2-year-olds, an interesting one with local connections debuts in Saturday’s fourth race at Pleasanton. She’s a Tiger (Tale of the Cat-Shandra Smiles) is a half to triple Grade 1 winner and $1.5 million earner Smiling Tiger. Bred by Dr. Rodney Orr, She’s a Tiger sold for $150,000 to a partnership that includes Dr. Mark Dedomenico*Debbie Hoonan, tied for seventh in the Thoroughbred jockeys’ standings with 14 wins, is going to miss another six weeks with a knee ailment, according to agent David Singer. Hoonan has a potential Longacres Mile mount aboard Stryker Phd, runner-up at 40-to-1 in the Governor’s Handicap and second at 20-to-1 in the Budweiser. With Hoonan injured, David G. Lopez had the mount in the Budweiser*Cielator, unraced since a 5 ¾-length victory in the 2012 Belle Roberts Stakes, worked five furlongs in a bullet :58 3/5 Thursday for trainer Junior Coffey*Jose Zunino, another jockey nursing a knee injury, could accept mounts as early as next week, agent Hugh Wales said*Electric violinist Geoffrey Castle performs between races Friday evening at Emerald Downs*Washington-bred Special Summer, trained by McCanna and co-owned by Billie Klokstad and Helen Sherry, puts her three-for-three record on the line in Saturday’s $50,000 California Wine Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pleasanton*Jockey Leslie Mawing made a successful comeback in Thursday’s sixth race at Pleasanton, as the 2011 Emerald Downs riding champion guided Northern Smoke ($9.60) to an easy victory for trainer Greg James *Gosailgo, third to Exclusive Diva and E Z Kitty in the Washington State Legislators Stakes, runs Saturday in a $20,000 allowance race for older fillies and mares at Hastings Racecourse*2012 WTBOA champion 3-year-old filly Quizzical runs Friday in a $57,000 allowance sprint on the turf at Hollywood Park. On the same card, Raised a Secret, third in the 2012 Gottstein Futurity, is the 2-to-1 morning line favorite in a $54,000 allowance at 7 ½ furlongs on the main track*The track’s all-time leading earner gets his favorite distance Sunday when Wasserman faces six rivals in a $17,500/$15,000 claiming race with a $13,750 purse. The 11-year-old gelding is 12-12-13 in 67 EmD starts with earnings of $564,367. At 6 ½ furlongs, Wasserman is 5-0-4 in 13 starts with $123,208 in earnings. Sandwiched between the Irish Day and Coca-Cola Handicaps, the race features 2013 EmD winners Rezar, Saddleranch, City Twister and Tough Road Ahead*Trainer Larry Ross celebrates his 61st birthday Friday*EmD fastest times (through June 16): 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: Jebrica 1:34.72, June 16*Leading Horses Wins: El Gran Bebe (4-3-0-1), Roarified (4-3-0-0), 29 horses tied with two; Leading Horses Earnings: Exclusive Diva ($49,050), E Z Kitty ($41,700), Finallygotabentley ($35,060), Hoist ($30,965), Jebrica ($29,193).