The largest stakes field of the season gathers Sunday when 11 2-year-old colts & geldings square off in the $50,000 Emerald Express at six furlongs.
The crowded field includes seven horses coming off victories and one-first-time starter*Illumination Road*that has recorded five recent bullet drills at Emerald Downs.
Selecting a morning line favorite could prove difficult for Emerald Downs line maker Rob Rao, but trainer Doris Harwood figures to have top contenders with Harbor the Gold geldings Kenai King and Del Rio Harbor. Kenai King rallied to nip Italian Warrior at 4 ½ furlongs, earning a 56 Beyer after running 4 ½ furlongs in :51.21, and Del Rio Harbor emerged from that race to win a five-furlong dash in :58.84, earning a 42 Beyer.
The track’s all-time leader with 57 stakes wins, Harwood also has been the top 2-year-old trainer five of the last seven seasons including a record 21 wins with juveniles in 2009. So Harwood knows a thing or two about 2-year-olds, and added she likes the chances of both horses Sunday.
“I am very pleased with both colts and how they are training up to the race,” Harwood said. “I’m counting on them finishing one, two.”
Harwood said Kenai King gets bonus points for winning first out.
“Anytime you run a first-time 2-year-old starter it’s really which one is the bravest and you can’t teach them that,” she said. “ As good a job as I try to do, it’s up to them in the afternoons to really try and show up. Kenai King showed up in his first race because the dirt didn’t scare him and he was the bravest.
“(Del Rio Harbor), if you look at the form, you can see that I added blinkers in his next race, which gave him a little more focus. He got out of the gate better and he broke his maiden. He still outworks Kenai King in the morning. Which one is better? I don’t know.”
Trainer Terry Gillihan saddles the aforementioned first-time starter, Illumination Road, a son of Cahill Road-Persiflage who capped a brilliant series of drills Thursday with a three-furlong bullet in :35 4/5. Gillihan won the 1998 Emerald Express with Crosswater, a son of Ogygian who, unlike Illumination Raod, already had scored a fast maiden win and was 11-to-10 when he scored in gate-to-wire fashion in 1998.
As for Illumination Road, Gillihan said the Rom Maus-owned gelding isn’t hard to spot on the racetrack.
“He’s a big 2-year-old and he’s been training along really good,” Gillihan said. “I don’t know how fast he’s going to be, but he’s big.
“He does everything pretty easy, but you never really know. He’s a first-time starter and everybody else has run at least once, so that always makes a difference.”
· Hanrahan attempts to become the fourth Hastings Racecourse shipper to win an Emerald Downs stakes this season. A Washington-bred Matty G gelding trained by Greg Tracy, Hanrahan comes off a 3 ½-length victory in $20,000 maiden claimer at 3 ¼ furlongs. Hoist (Governor’s Handicap), Gosailgo (Boeing Handicap) and Herbie D (Mt. Rainier Handicap) already have shipped down from Vancouver for stakes wins.
· The Emerald Express is race nine at 6:09 p.m.
· The second edition of Pressbox Podcast*featuring interviews, guest handicappers and Robert Geller’s live call of the race*begins 30 minutes before post time. The link is available at the Emerald Downs Twitter feed (@emeralddowns) and the track’s Facebook page. Jacob Pollowitz hosts the 45-minute show live from the media office.
The field from the rail out for the 18th running of the Emerald Express: Stikine Slough, Juan Gutierrez, 118 lbs; Nicolas Cajun, Debbie Hoonan, 120; Mizzo’s Gold, Ronald Richard, 120; Hanrahan, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 120; Kendini, Javier Matias, 120; Illumination Road, Eliska Kubinova, 118; Kenai King, Isaias Enriquez, 120; Mebossman, David G. Lopez, 118; Italian Warrior, Anne Sanguinetti, 118; Del Rio Harbor, Rocco Bowen, 120; Dallon’s Gold, Nate Chaves, 120.
CHRIS STENSLIE, JODY PEETZ SLATED FOR EmD A.M.
The monthly Emerald AM program continues this Saturday with special, inside look into the roles and responsibilities of trainers and owners at Emerald Downs.
Located on the track apron, the two-hour show begins at 9 a.m. and includes free admission to the day’s races, free coffee, snacks and an Official Program. After the show, the track will provide a free tram ride touring the stable area.
Hosted by Track Announcer Robert Geller and Media Relations’ Jacob Pollowitz, Saturday’s Emerald AM will feature trainer Chris Stenslie, owner Jody Peetz and Paddock Judge Pat McDowell.
The next and final Emerald AM this season is on August 31.
FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL ON SUNDAY!
Bring a big appetite to the races this Sunday and gorge yourself at the second annual Food Truck Day at Emerald Downs. Several of the Puget Sound region’s favorite food trucks will wheel into the parking lot, set up shop, and serve fan favorites including My Chef Lyn, 314 Pie, Evolution, Ben & Jerry’s, Gobble ToGo, Nomad, Za’aTar & Taco Gol.
The Food Trucks will serve from 1-6 p.m.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Frank Lucarelli (10-4-2-1);Jockey-Maggie Hardison (first career victory) Owner-Randall & Rossi LLC (2-2-0-0); Groom-Marco Cedillo-Cruz; Washington-bred: Royal Moses (breeder Craig Harder)*Herbie D was given a career-high and Emerald Downs season-high 100 Beyer for Sunday’s 2 ¾-length victory in the Mt. Rainier Handicap. Trainer Robert Gilker said the 5-year-old B.C.-bred gelding would be pointed to the $200,00 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 18*Politicallycorrect, runner-up in the Grade 3 James Marvin Handicap last Friday at Saratoga, also could be headed to The Mile. A 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding trained by Washington native Wesley Ward, Politcallycorrect won the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup under card last November at Santa Anita*Stryker Phd earned a career-high 95 Beyer for his runner-up finish in the Mt. Rainier Handicap, the third straight second-place finish in the older handicap division this year for the 4-year-old Bertrando gelding. Owned by Jim & Mona Hour, Stryker Phd is on the verge of giving veteran trainer Margo Lloyd her first Longacres Mile starter*6-year-old Washington-bred gelding Chaching Pete attempts for a fifth straight victory in Friday’s fifth race for $15,000 claimers at 6 ½ furlongs. Chaching Pete is 4-4-0-0 this year, winning twice at Sun Downs and twice at Emerald Downs*Southern Solution, 3-0-0 in four starts at the meet, makes his first start for his new connections*owner Howard Hammer and trainer Blaine Wright*in Friday’s $14,800 feature race for 3-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs. Hammer and Wright paid $15,000 for the Southern Africa gelding via claim*Already the only Quarter Horse with two wins at the meet, Rf Pistol Pete goes for three in a row in the Sunday opener at 350 yards. Juan Sanguino, conditioner of the 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred, is the meet’s leading Quarter Horse trainer with four wins*In Sunday’s sixth race, Olympic Lights takes another crack at his 17th career win at Emerald Downs while facing six $5,000 claimers at six furlongs*The July 13 victory by Zafari Nation was the first winner for Washington sire Nationhood, a son of Cherokee Run who captured the Seattle and Budweiser Handicaps at Emerald Downs in 2008*The six horses entered in Friday’s second race have combined for 32 wins at Emerald Downs, led by 6-year-old gelding Buddy Dave with 11 local wins and 8-year-old gelding Havin a Good Day with 10*Trainer Blaine Wright celebrated his 39th birthday Thursday. Wright is 16-for-54 at the meet and ranks No. 1 in win percentage at 29.6 percent.
Leading horses (wins): Max Cooper (6-4-0-1); Hardbody (5-3-2-0); Polish Dollar (5-3-1-1); Roarified (6-3-1-0); I Keep Saying (4-3-1-0); Seventyprcentcocoa (5-3-0-1); El Gran Bebe (5-3-0-1); Southern Solution (4-3-0-0); Stopshoppingdebbie (3-3-0-0). (earnings) Stopshoppingdebbie $82,500; Exclusive Diva $59,000; E Z Kitty $49,200; Polish Dollar $40,792; Finallygotabentley $40,060; Mike Man’s Gold $39,470; Gosailgo $38,750; Jebrica $36,693; Royal Moses $34,440.
Leading Jockeys (wins/win%): Isaias Enriquez (64-24%); Juan Gutierrez (62-25%); David G. Lopez (34-15%); Rocco Bowen (34-16%); Javier Matias (27-16%); Eliska Kubinova (27-14%); Leonel Camacho-Flores (24-12%); Anne Sanguinetti (23-16%); Ronald Richard (19-13%); Debbie Hoonan (17-11). (earnings) Gutierrez $618,790; Enriquez $570,817; Bowen $373943; Lopez $372,702; Matias $332,858; Hoonan $242,210; Kubinova $241,538; Sanguinetti $213,360; Camacho-Flores $196,521; Richard $171,352.