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Trainer Vann Belvoir faring well in Northern California | Emerald Downs

Bourbon Bay defeats Breeders
Bourbon Bay defeats Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up Champ Pegasus in the San Marcos Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita Park, Jan. 17, 2011.
— image credit: Benoit Photo

Vann Belvoir has won 110 races and finished third and second in the trainers’ standings the last two seasons at Emerald Downs.

And while Belvoir hopes to make an impact at the 82-day meeting that begins Friday, April 15, he isn’t predicting a training title in 2011. He will have a presence, for sure, bringing back familiar favorites such as stakes winners No Flies On Doodle, Peaceful Reign and Mack’s Gold Bullet. But he also plans to continue training a string in Northern California where he’s off to a fine a fine 2-1-2 record from seven starts at Golden Gate Fields.

Belvoir’s latest victory was a 27-to-1 stunner by Victory Knock, a 5-year-old Peasant Tap gelding that scored a head decision for owner/breeder Gene Brain under apprentice Kyle Frey in a $4,000 claimer on Sunday, Jan. 16.

“I’ve got my foot in the door, and I’ve got a good crew (at Golden Gate),” Belvoir said.

The fallout could mean a slightly smaller stable at Emerald Downs for the 37-year-old conditioner, whose 287 starts last year ranked behind only his father, Howard Belvoir, and perennial kingpin Tim McCanna, whose also enjoyed recent success at Golden Gate.

“All the Seattle people are doing well (at Golden Gate),” Belvoir said.

Gordy Jarnig celebrates another fine claim

It appears owner Gordy Jarnig has spun some more gold at the claim box.

Part of the syndicate that walloped a homer with 2009 Washington-bred Horse of the Year Reba Is Tops, Jarnig was all smiles Sunday, Jan. 16 when Upstairs Maid—claimed for $32,000 last November—led gate to wire to score by a half-length in a $34,000, six-furlong allowance race at Golden Gate Fields. And since she was bred in California, Upstairs Maid (by Trapper-Alternate Verse) earned an additional $7,000 bonus that boosted her first-place check to a hefty $26,250.

In other words, Jarnig and partner Billie Klokstad nearly recouped their total investment in one fell swoop—although there were some anxious moments immediately following the race.

Ridden by little-known Alice Cartwright, Upstairs Maid was the subject of a lengthy stewards’ inquiry after drifting into the path of Smokin Valentine in mid-stretch. Several buddies assured Jarnig, who watched the race at Emerald Downs, that he had nothing to worry about, that the incident was minor and sure to be dismissed by the stews. Still, Jarnig is well aware anything can happen once the numbers begin to blink.

Alas the stewards made no change, deeming the incident didn’t cost fifth-place finisher Smokin Valentine a better placing, and Upstairs Maid paid $16.20 to win. Its possible Jarnig might have fared well at the windows, too.

“It was Bud Klokstad’s idea,” Jarnig said of the claim. “He liked her looks, and she was a Cal-bred with all of her (race) conditions.”

Upstairs Maid ran six furlongs in 1:10 3/5 on the synthetic Tapeta surface, earning a career-high 83 Beyer.

Reba Is Tops, meanwhile, will make what is likely her final start Friday in the fourth race at Santa Anita. The 7-year-old mare is entered for a $62,500 tag in the $59,000 purse at about 6 ½ furlongs, after which she could be headed for the breeding shed. By He’s Tops-Miss Kyama, Reba Is Tops is 12-for-27 with $373,229 in earnings for Jarnig, Kenny Marshall and Eric Schweiger, who claimed her for $17,500 on July 1, 2007.

Klokstad posts consecutive training doubles

Klokstad, fifth all-time with 402 wins at Emerald Downs, now trains year-round in Northern California where he just completed another 20 percent season year in 2010 (27-for-138). This year might be even better as Klokstad won with five of seven starters recently at Golden Gate, including doubles Jan. 16 and 17.

In addition to Upstairs Maid, Klokstad won with three Washington-bred progeny of Private Gold including first-time starter Country Gold, who scored by one-length vs. $20,000 maiden claimers. By Private Gold-Foxy Lite, Country Gold is a half-sister to $169,000 earner Soft Lite, who is entered in the second race Thursday at Golden Gate.

Yet another Private Gold filly trained by Klokstad, 3-year-old Special Holiday, also earned an 83 Beyer while wining a $36,000 allowance race at Golden Gate on Jan. 9.

Odds and Ends

Congratulations to David & Jill Heerensperger of Bellevue as their brilliant 5-year-old gelding Bourbon Bay improved to 5-for-5 on the Santa Anita turf course with a 1 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (GII) on Monday…And congratulations to Mark Dedomenico of Redmond, co-owner of Blind Luck, crowned champion 3-Year-Old Filly Monday in Miami at the Eclipse Awards…Swift Thoroughbreds’ Ain, runner-up to Saratoga Boot in the 2010 Emerald Derby, came off the bench to score his maiden win Jan. 13 in a $58,000 MSW at about 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Carla Gaines now trains the $180,000 Aldebaran gelding…Washington Thoroughbred Hall of Fame breeder Dan Agnew was in the Santa Anita winner’s circle Jan. 14 when his homebred La Pinot ($17.20) debuted with a 2 ¼-length victory in a $30,000 maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies. The Benchmark filly is out of La Duncan, who won the 2003 Excess Energy Stakes in Agnew’s silks at Turf Paradise…Speaking of the Washington Hall of Fame, finalists for the Class of 2011 will be announced later this month…John & Janene Maryasnki’s razor-sharp Hallelujah Trail notched a 1 ¼-length victory in a $39,200 allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 15. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred by Gilded Time has won two straight six-furlong allowances on Tapeta for trainer Blaine Wright. In the same race Washington-breds Point of Reference and Gadget Queen (also owned by the Maryanskis) finished third fourth…Snip N Dale, winner of the Muckleshoot Tribal Dash at Emerald Downs, lost his second straight decision to Lucky Royal Rabbit in the $8,500 Directors Handicap for quarter horses Jan. 17 at Portland Meadows…Chalk up another stakes win for red-hot sire Harbor the Gold as Midda’s Gold Touch notched an $11.20 upset over 4-to-5 favorite Shamundi in Monday’s $12,800 OTBA Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds at Portland Meadows…Autism Awareness, the Cal-bred gelding that shipped in for a seventh-place finish in the 2009 Longacres Mile, snapped a nine-race losing streak with a an allowance-optional claiming victory at Golden Gate on Jan. 9. In the same race the Vann Belvoir-trained Elusive Schemes finished third and 2010 Seattle Slew Handicap winner Newfound Man was sixth…Washington-bred Mizzen You aims for her third straight win in Friday’s fourth at Golden Gate. The conditions are the same as her last two scores: $16,000 claiming at one mile on Tapeta…Portland Meadows offers an outstanding stakes doubleheader Saturday, Jan. 29, with the $80,000 Portland Meadows Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at one mile and the $25,000 Governor’s Speed Handicap for older horses at six furlongs…Tim McCanna improved to 4-for-17 at the current Golden gate meet when Siberian Cocktail scored by a neck with Russell Baze up in the fifth race Jan. 16.

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