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Stopshoppingdebbie looks for winner's circle in Washington Oaks | Emerald Downs

Stopshoppingdebbie (right) winning the $50,000 Kent Handicap over stable mate Goin to the Window (left).  - Photo coutesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs
Stopshoppingdebbie (right) winning the $50,000 Kent Handicap over stable mate Goin to the Window (left).
— image credit: Photo coutesy Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs

Many of the greatest fillies in Northwest racing history have captured the prestigious Washington Oaks, which marks its 34th renewal Saturday when undefeated Stopshoppingdebbie heads a field of five sophomore fillies racing 1 1/8 miles at Emerald Downs.

Belle of Rainier and Firesweeper, the 1982 and 1986 Oaks winners, are enshrined in the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, while Youcan’ttakeme and Class Included, the 2003 and 2011 winners, are the only fillies or mares ever to win Horse of the Meeting honors at Emerald Downs. Elusive Horizon, the 2008 winner, never lost around two turns, and several other winners*Lady Marion, Heather Ala Roni, Soft Copy, She’s All Silk and Zenovit*won state championships.

Stopshoppingdebbie could join that list Saturday as the daughter of Taste the Passion-Curlin seeks to become the first horse to sweep the 3-year-old filly stakes division at Emerald Downs.

Trained by Tom Wenzel and owned and bred by Northwest Farms, Stopshoppingdebbie is 4-4-0-0 with earnings of $93,023. She scored her maiden win in her only start as a 2-year-old, and this year has won, in order, the 6 ½-furlong Seattle Handicap, one-mile Irish Day Handicap, and most recently, scored a head victory over Goin to the Window in the 1 1/16-mile Kent Handicap. In the latter event, Wenzel and jockey Rocco Bowen said Stopshoppingdebbie had it too easy on the front end and might have lost focus while setting dawdling splits of :24.94, :49.45 and 1:13.02.
Stable mates Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie have finished second and third to Stopshoppingdebbie in all three stakes this season. So if Stopshoppingdebbie is denied a sweep, it’s likely her own stable mate is to blame.

"All three fillies have worked pretty solid up to the race,” Wenzel said of his Northwest Farms trio. “Debbie's workouts are always slow because she's so ratable. She can go 1:03 or under a minute, whatever you want her to do."

"It didn't surprise me to see (Goin to the Window) challenge Debbie like she did in the Kent Handicap. I've always known that Goin to the Window is a good filly."

But is she good enough to deny Stopshoppingdebbie? Wenzel, as usual, wouldn’t offer up a selection. He also said no decisions have been made as to what’s next for the three fillies. They’re all Kentucky-bred, so the Washington Cup is out.

"I think Goin to the Window will give Stopshoppingdebbie a good race, I really do, Wenzel said. "We're going to let Blueberry Smoothie run a little bit earlier this time. She's not slow and we think she can run a tactical race.

"We haven't gone beyond this race so I don't know for sure (about future races).

I don't want to speak for Jerre Paxton, who knows what he's going to think. Are they good enough to run in bigger races? We'll have to wait and see. I think this race could tell us a little more.”

· The Washington Oaks is Race 9 at 6:09 p.m.

· Taste the Passion, dam of Stopshoppingdebbie, finished second in the 2000 Washington Oaks. Shampoo, dam of Blueberry Smoothie, finished fifth as the 4-to-5 favorite in the 2007 Washington Oaks, which coincidentally was won by the Wenzel-trained Rivoltella at 10-to-1.

· Wenzel is 17-5-5-4 in stakes this season at Emerald Downs.

· Jockey Scott Williams makes his first Emerald Downs appearance Saturday aboard Daydream for trainer John Snow. Currently fourth in the Hastings Racecourse jockeys’ standings with 34 wins, Williams is the son of former Exhibition Park/Hastings rider Danny Williams.
The field from the rail out for the 34th running of the Washington Oaks: Goin to the Window, Juan Gutierrez, 120 lbs; Daydream, Scott Williams, 120; Beautranda, Isaias Enriquez, 120; Blueberry Smoothie, Javier Matias, 120; Stopshoppingdebbie, Rocco Bowen, 120.

MUSIC OF MY SOUL CHASES TOP HONORS IN EmD DERBY

Season-ending honors are on the line Sunday as the track’s top 3-year-olds square off in the $65,000 Emerald Derby, the 1 1/8-mile championship event at Emerald Downs.

The likely favorite, Music of My Soul, finds himself in a familiar situation*trying to earn division honors with a win the most important race. Last season, the Harbor the Gold colt really figured things out in late summer, capturing the meet’s final two juvenile stakes, including the prestigious Gottstein Futurity. Those victories secured Music of My Soul’s honors as Top Juvenile Male, and with a win Sunday, he’ll likely clinch honors as top 3-Year-Old Male.

Trained by Doris Harwood and owned by Ken Alhadeff (Elttaes Stable), Music of My Soul has orchestrated a successful 3-year-old campaign, but still appears to have more potential. He’s 3-1-2-0 with earnings of $41,700, highlighted by a half-length victory in the Coca-Cola Handicap on June 23, yet he couldn’t get by a pesky Mike Man’s Gold as the betting favorite in the Seattle Slew Handicap on July 14. Harwood makes no excuses for the defeat, but said she expects a slight change in tactics to make the difference on Sunday.

“I underestimated Mike Man’s Gold last time,” Harwood said. “He’s just a really good horse, but he won’t be having an easy lead again. This time, Music of My Soul will be right in his face.”

With Music of My Soul, Mike Man’s Gold and even Finallygotabentley, it’s been a right-in-your-face kind of rivalry for the better part of two years. All three horses have traded stakes decisions the last two years.

For Finallygotabentley, it’s more about finishing strong than anything else. The Kentucky-bred colt has six seconds in 11 career starts, three of those runner-up efforts have come after having the lead at the stretch call. Fortunately, he was a able to break that habit earlier this season when he opened up the Derby division with a one-length score in the Auburn Handicap. Nonetheless, Finallygotabentley still appears to be a work in progress for trainer Tom Wenzel.

“He’s been a fun horse to have, but also a frustrating horse to have,” Wenzel said. “I know he’s a good horse, he just needs to lay his body down and finish strong.”

A victory by any one of the three sophomores could wrap up division honors, however, Washington-breds Music of My Soul and Mike Man’s Gold could have one more chance to prove their mettle on Washington Cup Day, Sunday September 8, in the Chinook Pass Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

· The Emerald Derby goes as Race 10 at 6:39 p.m.

· Trainer Frank Lucarelli, tied for fifth all-time with 29 stakes wins, looks for his first Derby score with Kentucky-bred Valiant Flame. Incidentally, the Derby has also eluded jockey Juan Gutierrez, who is third all-time with 48 stakes wins, but could notch his first Derby win with Finallygotabentley.

· Julien Couton, currently riding at Del Mar, ships his tack north to ride Worldventurer in the Emerald Derby. Couton has ridden at Emerald Downs twice this season, including a runner-up finish aboard Disruption in the Auburn Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings.

The field from the rail out for the $65,000 Emerald Derby: Worldventurer, Julien Couton, 122 lbs.; Mike Man’s Gold, Javier Matias, 122; Finallygotabentley, Juan Gutierrez, 122; Valiant Flame, Ronald Richard, 122; Music of My Soul, Isaias Enriquez, 122; Botch, David Lopez, 122.

SHOT CLOCK TICKS DOWN TO EmD 3-ON-3 DEBUT

Preparations are almost complete and reservations booked*it’s tip-off time
for the Inaugural EmD 3-on-3 Tournament at Emerald Downs!

With 261 teams and 1,044 total players signed up, the two-day basketball tournament*scheduled Saturday and Sunday*is projected to surpass all expectations. Bob Fraser, the event coordinator and Vice President of Operations at Emerald Downs, said he’s impressed with the final numbers.

“I’m ecstatic with how it’s all come together,” Fraser said. “With so many participants, I expect the tournament to strike gold in its very first try. The community response has been equally wonderful.”

Locking in 36 local sponsors, EmD 3-on-3 has already proven to be a catalyst for community involvement. Doxon Toyota, one of the event’s leading sponsors, has already committed to donate $10,000 to the Auburn YMCA. Furthermore, the YMCA receives all entry fees*at $5 apiece*from participants in the featured Three-Point Shootout. Anyone is eligible for the contest, which consists of 20 shots in one minute, from five shooting locations. The winner gets a leather basketball and champion’s medal.

Aaron Brooks, a guard for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, will be on-hand both Saturday and Sunday to represent the Aaron Brooks Foundation. A non-profit organization designed to provide support to Seattle youth in high-risk poverty areas, the Aaron Brooks Foundation has been designated the namesake of Saturday’s third race*a.k.a. The Aaron Brooks Foundation Purse. Lorenzo Romar, coach of the UW Huskies Men’s Basketball team, is also expected to attend Sunday.

The tournament will take place on the track’s parking lot blacktop just northwest of the grandstand. There are 29 lined-up courts, where 22 divisions of players*from second grade to 40 and older*will compete. Arriving teams will be coming in from as far North as Mt. Vernon, as far south as Portland, as far west as Aberdeen and as far east as Yakima.

Notable vendors include: Monster, Vita Coco, Strideline, Ben & Jerry’s, Philly This, Catfish Corner and more. The Auburn Rotary Club will serve all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs and bacon from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday for only $5.
For more information about the tournament including a breakdown of each bracket please visit: emd3on3.com.

NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-David Martinez (5-3-0-0); Jockey-Nathan Chaves (11-3-1-2); Owner-Saratoga West (70-13-8-15 @ meet); Groom-Alex Rodriguez (Margo Lloyd); Washington-bred: Chu and You (breeder Michael & Amy Feuerborn)*Chu and You received a 65 Beyer for her 4 ¾-length victory in the Angie C Stakes, up one point from her debut on July 12*Noosito earned the biggest Beyer of the meet for a 2-year-old, as Noosa Beach’s little brother was given a 67 for Saturday’s debut victory in 1:03.43 for 5 ½ furlongs. Noosa Beach earned a 61 Beyer for his debut win on August 14, 2008*Max Cooper, the only Thoroughbred with four wins at the meeting, returns to action in Sunday’s seventh race for $10,000 claiming 3-year-olds and up at up one mile*The meet’s leading Quarter Horse winner also is entered Sunday as Rf Pistol Pete runs in the opener at 350 yards for 3-year-olds and up. The 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred is 3-1-1 in five starts at the meeting; no other Quarter Horse has more than one win. Debbie Hoonan, rider on Rf Pistol Pete, is the meet’s leading Quarter Horse jockey with four wins, and needs one more win to set a single-season track record for Quarter Horse wins. Connie Doll also had four Quarter Horse wins in 2011*Saturday’s sub-feature is a $20,000 allowance event for 2-year-old fillies that passed through the WTBOA Sales ring. And Sunday’s sub-feature is a $20,000 allowance for 2-year-old colts & geldings that passed through the WTBOA Sales ring.

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