Top fillies to battle in Sunday's Seattle Handicap | Emerald Downs

Northwest Farms
Northwest Farms' Exclusive Diva (No. 2) captured the 2011 Angie C Stakes at Emerald Downs. Exclusive Diva will run Sunday's Seattle Handicap.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Erin Palmer, Emerald Downs

Talk to My Lawyer and Exclusive Diva – stakes winners here last year at age 2 – resume their rivalry Sunday in the $50,000 Seattle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies running 6½ furlongs.

Capped off by the $65,000 Washington Oaks on Aug. 11, the sophomore filly division will start with its only sprint on Sunday, which could be an early advantage for Northwest Farms' (Jerre Paxton) Exclusive Diva around one turn.

"She's been working pretty well," trainer Tom Wenzel said of Exclusive Diva. "She hasn't been working lights out, but she hasn't missed any training either."

Exclusive Diva must concede the fitness advantage to Talk to My Lawyer, winner of an optional claiming race on April 21, but the daughter of Bernardini came out running last year with a 3½-length victory over Talk to My Lawyer in a maiden special weight at five furlongs on July 9.

A Washington-bred by Lawyer Ron, Talk to My Lawyer should be tough Sunday, and figures to improve even more as the distance get longer. Last year, Talk to My Lawyer became only the 10th filly to win the Gottstein Futurity with her neck victory over Havanna Red on closing day.

While Talk to My Lawyer, owned by Will This One Do Stable, deserved last season's Top 2-Year-Old Filly honor, Exclusive Diva might have been the division's best sprinter. In fact, the Kentucky-bred by Bernardini defeated Talk to My Lawyer in two sprints, including the Angie C Stakes last August.

John Sadler, trainer of starting high weight Regal Betty, is one of the perennial leaders in Southern California, but the 55-year-old Pasadena native has had only one previous starter at Emerald Downs. Wende, trained by Sadler, finished second to Pleas Write in the inaugural Emerald Distaff on Aug. 18, 1996.

Regal Betty's rider, Antonio Castanon, is no stranger to Emerald Downs, having won 128 races and six stakes in Auburn. Runner-up to Vann Belvoir with 76 wins in 1996, Castanon finished ninth with 50 wins in 1998 and rode two winners at Emerald Downs in 1999. The last decade he has ridden mainly in Southern California including Thoroughbred races at Los Alamitos.

The Seattle Handicap is Race 8 on a 9-race card. Post time is approximately 6:15 p.m.

The field for the 74th running of the Seattle Handicap: Muchas Coronas, William Antongeorgi, 116 pounds; Reliable Ema, Javier Matias, 113; Exclusive Diva, Juan Gutierrez, 118; Mattie Blue, Debbie Hoonan, 113; Lady Hokulea, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 118; Sweet Saga, Gallyn Mitchell, 117; Talk to My Lawyer, Leslie Mawing, 120; Regal Betty, Antonio Castanon, 121; Royal Moses, Joe Crispin, 116.

Winning Machine shines

Fleur De Lis Stables' Winning Machine tied the stakes record and was given a career-high 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his 1¾ length victory over Jebrica in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Handicap at 6½ furlongs. Jebrica earned a 90 for his 2012 debut while Hollywood Harbor received an 89 and Noosa Beach an 88.

The winning time of 1:13.97 equaled the stakes record of 1:13-4/5 set by Trooper Seven in 1980. (Emerald Downs began timing in hundredths of seconds in 2011.) The $25.60 win payoff was third largest in the 17 Governor's run at Emerald Downs. The Wicklow Man at $47.20 in 1998 and Handy N Bold at $36.60 in 2004 rank No. 1 and 2.

The track's two all-time leading earners were both in action Sunday, with Wasserman earning $125 for a sixth-place finish in the sixth race, and Noosa Beach $3,750 for finishing fourth in the Governor's.

The updated Top 5: 1, Wasserman $540,866; 2, Noosa Beach $465,305; 3, Assessment $425,205; 4, Flamethrowintexan $358,728; 5, The Great Face $340,159.

With $217,053 in earnings at Emerald Downs, Winning Machine is the 22nd horse to break $200K in earnings at EmD, and the 55th horse to win at least three stakes races at Emerald Downs.

Noosa Beach, Hollywood Harbor look ahead

In what was expected to be a showdown between Noosa Beach and Hollywood Harbor in the Governor's Handicap – they were bet down to 4-to-5 and even-money, respectively – quickly turned into the "Winning Machine Show" in the division's first stop en route to the Aug. 19 Longacres Mile (Grade III).

Both Harbor the Gold geldings, however, could be excused after troubled trips in their first stakes appearances in 2012. Hollywood Harbor hopped at the break from the one-hole and rushed into contention, circumstance that worked against the speedy gelding. And in the stretch run, Noosa Beach was carried out by a drifting Hollywood Harbor.

"It was the first time in two years that we had a bad trip," trainer Doris Harwood said after Noosa Beach's fourth-place finish. "For the most part, racing luck's been on our side. He came back from the race great. He was tearing down the hot walker."

Harwood said Noosa Beach galloped "beautifully" on Thursday and that she expects her 6-year-old gelding to give a good account of himself in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap on June 17.

According to trainer Chris Stenslie, Hollywood Harbor, third in the Governor's, will also make his next start in the $50,000 Budweiser. Stenslie said her 5-year-old Washington-bred came back well despite breaking slow and having to rush for the lead.

"He's doing fine," Stenslie said. "He tried really hard to win that race, so he's still a little tired."

$21,045 Pick 5 carryover Friday

A two-day carryover of $21,054 will be up for grabs on the 50-cent Pick 5 on races three 3 through 7 Friday at Emerald Downs. Post time for the third race is 6:58 p.m.

The carryover is the largest since Emerald Downs began offering a $0.50 Pick 5 on June 17, 2011. Friday's Pick 5 handle is expected to break the single-day pool record of $30,168 set June 26, 2011.

The carryover is the result of a weekend dominated by long shots: favorites were 2-for-20 on Saturday and Sunday, 14 winners paid at least $10. Both Who's Your Next Ex on Saturday and Hayjax on Sunday were the longest prices in their respective races.


Week 6 honors: Jockey – Eliska Kubinova (17-5-0-2); trainer – Dennis Snowden (3-2-1-0); owner – Pegasus Too (1-1-0-0); groom – Lauro Bernal-Soria (Frank Lucarelli). ... Juan Gutierrez, tied with Eliska Kubinova and Joe Crispin for first in the jockeys' standings at 18 wins each, needs four wins to become the second rider in Emerald Downs history with 900 wins. ...

Lafayette Star, Rainier Missile and Just Have'n Fun became the 12th, 13th and 14th double winners at the meet, and a little extra credit to the 4-year-old gelding Rainier Missile, who turned back all comers to win a blanket four-horse finish in Sunday's sixth race. The Dave Bennett trainee is 2-1-0 in three starts at the meeting. A 4-year-old Benchmark filly, Lafayette Star has won 10 of her last 12 starts, a streak that began last July in Prineville, Ore. ...

Reminder: Holiday racing on Memorial Day at Emerald Downs with first post 2 p.m. Promising weather is forecast for the long weekend at Emerald Downs – Friday, sunny, 72; Saturday, sunny and 71; Sunday, fair and 64; Monday, fair and 62.

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