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Sophomores to vie in $50,000 Auburn Handicap | Emerald Downs
Three-year-old colts and gelding take center stage as Emerald Downs presents the $50,000 Auburn Handicap next Sunday, June 3.
The Auburn at 6½ furlongs is the first stakes and lone sprint for sophomore colts and geldings en route to the $65,000 Emerald Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Sunday, Aug. 12.
Havanna Red, second in all four starts as a 2-year-old including head and neck defeats to Chu and I and Talk to My Lawyer in the WTBOA Lads and Gottstein Futurity, is among nine evenly matched colts nominated to the Auburn.
Now trained by Chris Stenslie, Havanna Red has been training steadily for his 2012 debut, including a six-furlong drill in a quick 1:11-2/5 on Saturday. Stenslie helped engineer one of the biggest surprises in track history in the 2011 Auburn, as Showme Yourfriends at 50.20-to-1 prevailed by a half-length in 1:15.05.
Makors Finale ships in to Emerald Downs after a productive winter/spring at Turf Paradise, where the Makors Mark colt finished runner-up in both the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby and $35,000 Tempe Handicap. Tom Wenzel now conditions the Washington-bred colt for owner/breeder Karl Krieg III.
D'honorable One might be the betting favorite based on an 87 Beyer Speed Figure earned for a 1:08.54 six-furlong clocking on April 29. The 6¼-length victory was the third in five starts for the D'wildcat colt, whose owner-trainer combination – Heidi Nelson and Blaine Wright – won two stakes with Zayda in this division last year.
City Twister also comes off a fast recent victory for owners Sue and Tim Spooner and trainer Dan Markle. The He's Tops colt came off the bench to whip $25,000 claimers by 8¾ lengths in 1:01.85 for 5½ furlongs on April 21.
Ron Crockett Inc.'s Johnski is another Emerald Downs' newcomer with great potential. A nicely bred bay colt by Lion Heart out of the exceptional producer Carrie Can, Johnski comes off a half-length victory in a Golden Gate maiden special weight in which he covered six furlongs in 1:11-1/5 on the synthetic Tapeta surface.
Frank Lucarelli trains both Johnski and Brudda Clyde, a vastly improved Virginia-bred that has scored two straight maiden special weight victories at Emerald Downs (although disqualified from the first one for interference).
Brady's Kat was 2-for-2 last year including a $22.80 upset in the restricted Dennis Dodge Stakes, and finished third to D'honorable One in his 2012 debut.
Nominations for the 17th Auburn Handicap, Sunday, June 3
Nominee, owner, trainer
Brady's Kat (3-WA),West Coast Racing LLC, David Martinez
Brudda Clyde (VA), David P. Taylor & Shawn M. Taylor, Frank Lucarelli
City Twister (3-WA), Sue & Tim Spooner, Dan Markle
D'honorable One (3-FLA), Nelson Family Racing, Blaine Wright
First Last Chance (3-WA) Ken Jochimsen & John Holmes Racing, John A. Holmes
Gold Surge (3-WA), Grasshopper Racing Stable Inc., Jim Penney
Havanna Red (3-WA), C.E. & Ann Richardson, Chris Stenslie
Johnski (3-KY), Ron Crockett Inc., Frank Lucarelli
Makors Finale (3-WA), Karl Krieg, Tom Wenzel