The photo finish camera was busy Sunday at Emerald Downs.
In the $50,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, Stopshoppingdebbie remained undefeated with a gate-to-wire head victory over Goin to the Window in 1:43.13 for 1 1/16 miles.
And in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings, Mike Man’s Gold fought off Music of My Soul for a neck victory in 1:42.92 for 1 1/16 miles.
The Kent Handicap was the expected result*Stopshoppingdebbie, ridden by Rocco Bowen at 120 lbs, was the prohibitive 1-to-5 betting favorite, while stablemates Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie were the clear second and third choices. And for the third straight time they finished one, two, three, with Stopshoppingdebbie turning back Goin to the Window for the hard-fought victory, and Blueberry Smoothie easily outrunning Strange Luck for third place.
Mike Man’s Gold, however, was a big surprise in the Seattle Slew. Ridden by Javier Matias at 118 lbs, Mike Man’s Gold paid $38.80, $8.60 and $3.80*the $2 win mutuel is easily the largest in a stakes this season.
A double stakes winner as a 2-year-old, Mike Man’s Gold struggled in his first three outs this season, but turned in a resurgent effort two weeks ago when reunited with Matias.
Hustled to the lead in the Seattle Slew, Mike Man’s Gold set fractions of :23.57, :47.63, 1:11.76 and 1:36.64, and held a slight lead over Music of My Soul. The two Washington-bred spurted clear into the stretch, and Mike Man’s Gold refused to surrender and gamely held to the wire.
“Nobody believed me that this horse would run well,” Matias said. “I felt the first half of the race that we were going pretty easy. Then I looked back and saw (Music of My Soul) coming up close.
“I was nervous at the three-eighths pole, but when the other horse hadn’t gone by us at the quarter-pole, I was feeling pretty good. I asked him at the quarter-pole and he just never quit. I think he’s really coming back now.”
Trained by David Martinez and owned by Keith Swagerty and William Gallo, Mike Man’s Gold*by Liberty Gold-Chedoodle*is 5-0-1 in 10 starts with earnings of $105,126. Mike Man’s Gold defeated Music of My Soul by a head last year in the WTBOA Lads Stakes, but had dropped three subsequent decisions to Music of My Soul.
Ridden by Isaias Enriquez at 119 lbs, Music of My Soul paid $2.60 and $2.10 as the 6-to-5 betting favorite. The loss was the first in three starts around two turns for the Doris Harwood-trained colt.
It was 2 ¾-lengths back to Worldventurer, the 9-to-5 second choice, and a $2.40 show payoff. Finallygotabentley, Valiant Flame and Bound to Win completed the order of finish.
Stopshoppingdebbie also was game in victory. A Kentucky-bred by Curlin-Taste the Passion, Stopshoppingdebbie is 4-4-0-0 with earnings of $92,318, and has picked off, in order, the Seattle Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs, the Irish Day Handicap at one mile and the Kent Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. She is the first horse since Shampoo in 2007 to sweep the first three stakes events for 3-year-old fillies. The $65,000 Washington Oaks at 1 1/8 miles awaits on Saturday, August 10.
Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie are all owned and bred by Northwest Farms (Jerre Paxton) and trained by Tom Wenzel.
Stopshoppingdebbie once again had the early lead, but Bowen said the pace*a dawdling :24.94, :49.45, 1:13.02*almost put his filly too sleep on the lead.
“I tried to slow down the pace, but I think I might have slowed it down too much,” he said. “She started to lose a little focus down the backside. I really had to dig at her today. She switched leads a little late, too.
“I think (Goin to the Window) got maybe a head on us, but my horse just dug back in. It definitely was a dogfight, which is good because now she knows what it’s like.”
Goin to the Window is 2-3-0 in five starts with earnings of $67,043*all three runner-up efforts to Stopshoppingdebbie. Blueberry Smoothie is 2-1-3 in six starts with earnings of $69,443. She’s lost once to Goin to the Window and three times to Stopshoppingdebbie.
NOTES: Trainer Charles Essex has a win the last five cards at Emerald Downs, including Adam N Ryan ($31.80) in Sunday’s fifth race. Eliska Kubinova had the mount aboard Adam N Ryan, and is eight-for-24 combined with Essex this season*Kubinova also scored on Clemens Brook ($7.20) in race eight for her 100th career victory at Emerald Downs. She added a third win in race 10, scoring on Fist Full of Green to complete her second hat trick in three days*Juan Gutierrez and Isaias Enriquez rode one winner each and Gutierrez remains two ahead of Enriquez, 61-59, through 41 days of racing*Live racing resumes Friday with first post6:45 p.m. Simulcast wagering is offered Monday and Tuesday in the Quarter Chute Café, and Wednesday and Thursday at Emerald Downs. Wednesday’s action includes opening day of Del Mar’s 37-day meeting.