Del Rio Harbor turned back stable mate Kenai King and held off first-time starter Illumination Road for a gate-to-wire victory Sunday in the $50,000 Emerald Express for 2-year-old colts and geldings at Emerald Downs.
Ridden by Rocco Bowen at 120 lbs, Del Rio Harbor ran six furlongs in 1:10.75 and paid $32.80, $10.80 and $6.20. Doris Harwood*adding to her track record with her 58th Emerald Downs stakes victory, is the trainer for co-owners/breeders Desert Rose Racing & Bar C Racing Stables.
A Washington-bred gelding by Harbor the Gold-Bahati, Del Rio Harbor earned $24,750 for the victory, and is 2-0-0 in three starts with earnings of $35,013. The winner is a full brother to Couldabenthewhisky, 2010 Washington State and Emerald Downs Champion 2-Year-Old.
Breaking from the No. 10 post-position, Del Rio Harbor was hustled to the lead and set fractions of :22.41, :45.34 and :57.59, opening a 1 ½-length lead into the stretch. From there, Del Rio Harbor held off a wall of closers for the victory.
“Doris (Harwood) told me ‘I’ll leave it all in your hands’ and that’s the best instructions for a jockey,” Bowen said. “It helped having the pace competition on the outside of me, but I still had to ride a smart race. It was just a two-horse race at the head of the lane and I was able to get it done.”
Illumination Road, ridden by Eliska Kubinova at 118 lbs, rallied boldly to finish second, and paid $9.60 and $5. The lone first-time starter in the field, Illumination Road was in eighth-place early, rallied wide into the lane, and finished full of run to just miss. Trained by Terry Gillihan and owned and bred by Ron Maus, the runner-up earned $9,000.
Kenai King, the 2-to-1 second choice, loomed boldly into the lane but was unable to overhaul Del Rio Harbor, whom Kenai King had defeated in his June 29 debut. Ridden by Isaias Enriquez, Kenai King paid $3.
Mebossman finished fourth, followed by Kendini, Italian Warrior, Nicolas Cajun, Hanrahan, Mizzo’s Gold and Stikine Slough completed the order of finish.
The 9-to-5 betting favorite, Stikine Slough steadied sharply on the backstretch and might have lost his best chance.
“He broke OK, but down the backstretch a horse came in front of him,” jockey Juan Gutierrez said of Stikine Slough.
“We got going again, but at the three-eighths pole we had more traffic block us. He’s a nice colt but with a trip like that, nothing good can happen.”
Dallon’s Gold got loose in the paddock, delaying the post-parade, and was scratched.
NOTES: Gutierrez rode three straight winners in races six, seven and eight, and is tied with Enriquez for first place in the jockeys’ standings at 68 wins apiece*Jeff Metz had two winners and tied Frank Lucareli at 27-all in the trainers’ standings*Lucarelli had a win Sunday, as 4-year-old filly Jewel S. ($6.80) notched her third win of the meeting*Trainer Roddina Barrett scored her first Emerald Downs victory and her second career win with first-time starter Tros (10.40) in Sunday’s second race. A 4-year-old Invasor colt, Tros was the longest price in a four-horse field and ran one mile in 1:37.01 under Jose Zunino*Harwood had a huge day with 2-year-olds*in addition to the stakes win, she finished first and second with Knight Club ($13.60) and Fragrant Harbor in race four for maiden 2-year-old fillies. By Matty G-Knight Weave, Knight Club ran five furlongs in :57.81 under David G. Lopez for owner Shady Valley Ranch*Trainer Jim Penney also had two wins Sunday, his third double in the last four racing days*Rf Pistol Pete ($3) scored his third straight win in the Sunday opener. In becoming the first Quarter Horse with three wins at the meet*no other horse has even won two*Rf Pistol Pete ran 350 yards in :18.28 under Debbie Hoonan for owner/trainer Juan Sanguino. Hoonan is the meet’s leading Quarter Horse rider with four wins, and Sanguino is the No. 1 QH trainer with five wins*Congratulations to trainer Tim McCanna as Washington-bred 4-year-old filly Youtheprizeandi ($28) came off the bench to score a big upset in a $28,000 purse for $12,500 claimers at Del Mar. By You and I-Misty Knight, Youtheprizeandi won the 2011 NWSS Knights Choice Stakes at Emerald Downs*Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:45 p.m.