Trainer Blaine Wright has left his mark on the Seattle Slew Handicap.
He nearly has three straight wins in the race-finishing first with Newfound Man and Zayda in 2010 and 2011 before missing the hat trick when D’honorable One missed by a head to Italian Boy in 2012.
Sunday, the 38-year-old conditioner looks tough again as he sends out Peter Redekop’s Worldventurer in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings running 1 1/16 miles.
Worldventurer, an aptly named Texas-bred gelding that has run at five different tracks in three states, hopes to improve off his Emerald Downs debut, a third-place finish to Music of My Soul in the one-mile Coca-Cola Handicap last month. Wright said he was pleased with his horse’s last start.
“He got shuffled back a little toward the first turn, but I think he had every opportunity to get the win,” Wright said. “His previous trainer Bret Calhoun had him in tiptop shape, and I think the horse came into the race ready to fire.”
Before shipping to Wright’s barn, Worldventurer mostly competed in Texas, where he amassed three state-bred stakes wins. The Wimbledon gelding is the field’s most accomplished runner, leading in wins with four and earnings with $219,932. Nonetheless, Wright still considers Doris Harwood trainee Music of My Soul the horse to beat.
“I think we’re all trying to run down Music of My Soul,” Wright said. “I think if we finish ahead of Doris’ horse than that means we’ll be in the Winner’s Circle.”
Music of My Soul, voted state champion 2-Year-Old in 2012, is undefeated around two turns including a half-length score in the Coca-Cola despite a 1 ½-month layoff. The younger brother to two-time Horse of the Meeting Noosa Beach, Music of My Soul tries to give Harwood her first Seattle Slew victory since 1993 when For the Children won it at Yakima Meadows. Incidentally, that win came under the silks of Dad & Lad Stable for owner Michael Alhadeff, the older brother to Music of My Soul’s owner Ken Alhadeff of Elttaes Stables.
While the Seattle Slew’s history and implications are vast, it’s hard not to look ahead to the sophomore division’s championship event, the $65,000 Emerald Derby on August 18, a 1 1/8-mile race that Wright would like to have on his training résumé.
“It would be nice to win The Derby,” Wright said. “I’ve had the favorite the past three years and haven’t quite been able to knock it down yet.”
The Seattle Slew Handicap is race nine at 6:09 p.m.
The field from the rail out for the 36th running of the Seattle Slew Handicap: Mike Man’s Gold, Javier Matias, 117 lbs.; Valiant Flame, Ronald Richard, 116; Worldventurer, David Lopez, 120; Music of My Soul, Isaias Enriquez, 119; Finallygotabentley, Juan Gutierrez, 118; Bound to Win, Jose Zunino, 113.
UNBEATEN STOPSHOPPINGDEBBIE HEADS KENT ’CAP
Unbeaten and virtually untested in three starts, Stopshoppingdebbie heads a field of four 3-year-old fillies Sunday in the $50,000 Kent Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.
In fact, trainer Tom Wenzel and owner/breeder Northwest Farms have a great chance for a third straight one, two, three finish in a 3-year-old fillies stakes at Emerald Downs. Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie already have swept the first two races in the division, and all three seem to be getting better with distance.
In stakes wins this year, Stopshoppingdebbie ran the fastest 6½ furlongs of the meet, 1:14.41, while winning the Seattle Handicap by 1 ½ lengths, and the second fastest mile of the meet, 1:34.74, while winning the Irish Day Handicap by 6 ¾ lengths. And in both races, Goin to the Window held second place and Blueberry Smoothie rallied for third.
Strange Luck, trained by Roy Lumm, is the only other contestant in the Kent Handicap, as owners and trainers apparently believe the Northwest Farms’ trio to be in a league of their own.
Wenzel, while acknowledging the fillies’ terrific bloodlines, said breeding is only part of the equation, and said Jerre Paxton (Northwest Farms) should be saluted and congratulated for producing such outstanding runners.
“These pedigrees don’t guarantee anything,” Wenzel said. “They’ve still got to make it (to the races) and stay sound. You see guys spend millions of dollars and get zero.
“It’s a credit to Jerre Paxton that he’s developed a good broodmare band, and we’re seeing the results.”
• The Kent Handicap is race seven at 5:09 p.m. and the final local tune-up for the 1 1/8-mile Washington Oaks on Saturday, August 10.
The field from the rail out for the 17th running of the Kent Handicap: Blueberry Smoothie, Javier Matias, 117 lbs; Goin to the Window, Juan Gutierrez, 119; Strange Luck, Luis Lopez, 115; Stopshoppingdebbie, Rocco Bowen, 120.
EQUINE ART WEEK AT EMERALD DOWNS
The 14th annual Emerald Downs Equine Art Show-Equine Art 2013-is available for viewing Friday through Sunday, located parallel to the Winner’s Circle on Track Level.
Thursday, a panel of judges awarded over $5,000 in prizes in more than a dozen categories including the Stanley A. Gilman Best In Show Award.
Kerry Dalton, the show’s co-chairperson, said she expects this season’s edition to be the best yet.
“I know I say it every year, but this show truly gets better and better,” Dalton said. “Every year we fill the entire show with 200 pieces coming from all across the country.”
Each piece of art is available for purchase and race fans and art enthusiasts are encouraged to participate in this year’s Angie Crockett Memorial People’s Choice Award, which is voted on each year by the racing public.
The Washington Thoroughbred Foundation in conjunction with Emerald Downs and the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association presents equine Art 2013. For more information please visit http://www.washingtonthoroughbred.com/ArtShow/ArtProsp.htm
STAR 101.5 WIENER DOG RACES RETURN SUNDAY
With Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses already on the weekend docket at Emerald Downs, the racetrack will add another breed Sunday as the track hosts the 17th Annual Kent & Alan STAR 101.5 Wiener Dog Races.
Defending champion Ben Norman, a 6-year-old Dachshund of Lake Stevens, makes his highly anticipated return after winning last year’s contest by open lengths.
Sunday’s 11-race Thoroughbred program begins at 2:15 p.m., with the dogs expected to take center stage at 3:30 p.m. There will be two qualifying heats between races three and four, followed by the championship event after race five.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Bill Tollett (7-4-0-1); Jockey-Matt Hagerty (3-2-0-0); Owner-Darrin Paul (3-2-0-0); Groom-Salvador Mena (Blaine Wright); Washington-bred: Seventyprcentcocoa (breeders John & Janene Maryanski)*Two-time defending training champion Frank Lucarell is making a big push toward another title in 2013. With doubles Saturday and Sunday, Lucarelli has jumped into second place with 21 wins, and is only two wins behind Jeff Metz*In the jockeys’ race, defending champion Juan Gutierrez leads newcomer Isaias Enriquez 58-56, with David G. Lopez and Rocco Bowen tied for third at 30 wins apiece. Through 38 days, Enriquez has 18 multiple-win days while Gutierrez has 17*Enriquez and Lucarelli are a combined 12-for-46 at the meet, including wins Sunday with Jewel S. ($7.60) and Mizzo’s Gold ($4.80)*Gosailgo earned a career-high 84 Beyer for Sunday’s five-length victory in the Boeing Handicap. The 4-year-old B.C.-bred ran one mile in 1:35.08*With victories last weekend by Seventyprcentcocoa and Newfound Man, trainer Blaine Wright and jockey Juan Gutierrez are a combined 19-for-38 the last two seasons at Emerald Downs*The Maryanskis are on a three-race winning streak, with victories by Rocky’s Quest, Newfound Man and Seventyprcentcocoa. Janene Maryanski said homebred Seventyprcentcocoa is named after her doctor’s advice to eat chocolate with less fat content. “Seventyprcentcocoa is like a healthy indulgence,” she said. “Horses and chocolate, you got have ’em both.”*Makors Finale is out the rest of the meeting with an undisclosed ailment, trainer Tom Wenzel said. Wenzel said the injury is not related to a foot problem that sidelined the 4-year-old colt last month*Another horse from the local older handicap division, Why Not Be Perfect, is entered in Sunday’s $100,000 Sunset Handicap at 1 ½ miles on turf on closing day at Betfair Hollywood Park. Anne Sanguinetti has the mount for trainer Jeff Metz*Metz, who has horses entered in 11 races this week at Emerald Downs, has hired Jennifer Rodriguez as assistant trainer...Saturday’s third, fourth and fifth races are all 2-year-old events, including a $17,850 maiden special weight for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Carded as race five, the five-furlong dash includes two Harbor the Gold first-time starters from the Rosie Simkins barn, and Grindster, a Jim Penney firster by Grindstone-R C Gangster that’s a half-brother to $105,000 earner The Gang and I*Speaking of Penney, the Washington Hall of Fame trainer has been sidelined with a case of shingles but hopes to be back to work soon*Sunday’s eighth race, a $10,000 claimer for older fillies and mares, features prolific Emerald Downs’ winners Champali Lace (8-for-13) and Touch of Elegance (12-for-27)*Horses with three wins at the 2013 EmD meeting: Hardbody (5-3-2-0-$12,760), Max Cooper (5-3-0-1-$15,912), El Gran Bebe (5-3-0-1-$15,558); Polish Dollar (4-3-0-1-$36,592), Seventyprcentcocoa (4-3-0-1-$27,954), Roarified (5-3-0-0-$18,676), Southern Solution (4-3-0-0-$20,162).