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Top juveniles resume rivalry Sunday | Emerald Downs
A talented six-pack of 2-year-old colts and geldings take center stage Sunday in the $65,000 Gottstein Futurity at one mile.
Double stakes winner Mike Man's Gold faces stakes winner Music of My Soul, and a victory by either colt probably clinches honors as the meet's Top Juvenile Male.
Mike Man's Gold is three-for-four at the meet, including wins in the Premio Esmeralda and WTBOA Lads Stakes, while Music of My Soul countered two weeks ago with a 3¾-length score in the Dennis Dodge Stakes on Washington Cup Day. Music of My Soul earned the meet's highest Beyer for a 2-year-old in the latter, a 72 after running six furlongs in 1:09.25.
Finallygotabentley has never finished worse than third and comes off a 6¾-length maiden victory Sept. 3, running six furlongs in 1:08.87 and earning a 71 Beyer.
In other words, it's tough to figure who the fans will favor, especially with the one-mile distance of the Gottstein figuring to confuse matters even more.
Trainer Tom Wenzel said that Finallygotabentley should be tough. The dark bay or brown colt is out of a Preakness winner, Bernardini, while dam Smarty Deb whipped the boys in the 2007 Gottstein Futurity.
"I've really liked this horse all along," Wenzel said. "He's a May 3rd baby, which makes him still a pretty young 2-year-old. Until they go turns, you never know for sure."
Dontmesswithkitten, runner-up to Finallygotabentley on Sept. 3, was a $7,000 supplemental nomination to the Gottstein.
The field for the 75th Running of the Gottstein Futurity all at 120 pounds: 1, Finallygotabentley, Juan Gutierrez; 2, Don'tmesswithkitten; 3, Mike Man's Gold; 4, Raised a Secret, William Antongeorgi; 5, Music of My Soul, Leslie Mawing; 6, More Strawberries, Debbie Hoonan.
Big fields Sunday for Claiming Challenge
In addition to the Gottstein, Sunday's closing day program also features the Ashbaugh Beal Claiming Challenge, which drew 56 horses in six races – or 9.33 horses per event – worth an aggregate $76,000 in purse money.
As usual, the Claiming Challenge could decide which "blue-collar" Thoroughbred is voted the meet's Top Claimer. In fact, eight horses entered in the Ashbaugh Beal Claiming Challenge – Rocky's Quest, Majorca Gold, Zippin E, Akina, Grand Baylee, Malibu Rum, Polish Dollar and Rockymystar – are among the 16 horses log-jammed for most wins at the meet with four apiece.
Headed by red-hot gelding Rocky's Quest, the one-mile "The Itstoughtobegood" starter allowance could be the challenge's most intriguing match up. A 4-year-old by Rockport Harbor, Rocky's Quest has compiled a 4-2-1 record in seven starts this season including six straight races with an 83-plus Beyer Speed Figure. The race also includes Malibu Rum and Polish Dollar and the track's all-time leading money earner, Wasserman. A victory by Rocky's Quest, Malibu Rum or Polish Dollar would be hard for the voters to overlook.
In celebration of the Ashbaugh Beal Challenge, Emerald Downs will honor five of the track's top all-time claiming horses: Bob Stories, Halonator, Market Master, Skyrider and West Seattle Boy.
Sunday also is Fan Appreciation Day
Emerald Downs offers its amazing fans special closing day pricing Sunday: $1 admission, $1 preferred parking, $1 reserved seating, $1 programs and $1 concession specials including soft drinks and popcorn. The hottest special Sunday, however, will be 20 percent off on purchases in The Gift Horse (cannot be combined with other discount; does not apply to art).
Located at the entrance, The Gift Horse features an extensive library, merchandise decorated with the Emerald Downs logo, Equestrian gifts and more.
Gates open at 9 a.m. with the 11-race card beginning at 2 p.m.
Big Pick 5 carryover tonight
Today's final night card is enhanced by a challenging Pick 5 sequence that includes a $5,851 carryover. The $0.50 Pick 5 begins on Race 3 at 6:58 p.m., and includes 43 horses for an average of 8.6 horses per race. Incidentally, the Pick 5 continues to produce boxcar results – six payoffs over $1,000 since Aug. 24 – topped by a track record $20,957.40 on August 26.
Matias, Markle to be honored
Jockey Javier Matias and trainer Dan Markle will be honored with prestigious awards Saturday on closing weekend of the 2012 meeting.
His fellow jockeys have voted Matias the Lindy Award, and the racing office has selected Markle as its recipient of the Durkan Award. Both awards are presented annually and recognize achievement and character on and off the track.
The 40-year-old Matias has enjoyed a resurgent campaign, ranking eighth overall with 40 wins and No. 1 in stakes wins with seven, and came within a head of capturing the Longacres Mile aboard Horse of the Meeting candidate Winning Machine. Matias becomes the 27th winner of the Lindy, first awarded to Frank Gonsalves in 1985.
The Martin Durkan Award is presented annually to a trainer for leadership, cooperation, sportsmanship and excellence, with the 63-year-old Markle the award's 38th recipient. Markle, whose main clients include Sue and Tim Spooner, has enjoyed another fine meeting while winning with 16-of-92 starters and recently became just the ninth trainer with 300 career wins at Emerald Downs.
Matias is scheduled to receive the Lindy Award after the sixth race and Markle will be presented the Durkan Award following the seventh race. Both presentations will be made in the winner's circle.
Diane Kem winner sold
Roveing Patrol, the undefeated 2-year-old filly who gave trainer Don Munger his first Emerald Downs stakes victory, has been sold privately and will compete in a Grade I race next month at Keeneland.
According to Munger, J. Paul Reddam has acquired Roveing Patrol with Ben Cecil the new trainer, with the plan to run the filly in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) on October 5 at Keeneland. The Southern California-based Reddam is best known for owning I'll Have Another, the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.
A Washington-bred by Nacheezmo-Gutty Gerddy, Roveing Patrol is two-for-two and comes off a smashing 8½-length victory in the $35,000 Diane Kem Stakes on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 9. Roveing Patrol ran six furlongs in 1:09.57, tying the stakes record, and was given a 67 Beyer.
Blueberry Smoothie heads Shinpoch
For Blueberry Smoothie, the best thing heading into Saturday's $50,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, might be the absence of stable mate Goin to the Window.
Blueberry Smoothie, a classy daughter of Giant's Causeway-Shampoo, could be the second best filly on the grounds, and the second best filly in the Tom Wenzel barn.
A victory in the 6½-furlong Shinpoch – the meet's championship race for 2-year-old fillies – would certainly close the gap between the two.
Coming off a runner-up effort to Goin to the Window in the Angie C Stakes, Blueberry Smoothie appears to have a clear advantage over her rivals in the Shinpoch. She already has beaten three of her four rivals, and her 67 and 65 Beyer Speed Figures tower over her opposition Sunday.
The biggest obstacle for Blueberry Smoothie might be the No. 1 post-position. Before the Angie C, she was reluctant to load and fractious in the gate, and perhaps that cost her a bit as Goin to the Window took over at the halfway point and scored a one-length victory.
Exclusive Diva heads Saturday's allowance
Exclusive Diva – a three-time stakes winner including two this season – heads a field of six allowance fillies and mares entered in Saturday's sub-feature at 6½ furlongs. The $22,575 purse also attracted 2011 Belle Roberts winner Sweet Nellie Brown and eight-time Emerald Downs' winner Perfect Pie.
A Kentucky-bred by Bernardini, Exclusive Diva has assembled a sparkling sophomore campaign highlighted by stakes wins in the Seattle Handicap and Irish Day Handicap. Her main rival this season, Champagneandcaviar, could hold the edge for Top 3-Year-Old Filly based on narrow victories in the Kent Handicap and Washington Oaks.
For Exclusive Diva, Saturday's allowance race marks her first test against older horses, and while four of the six entrants are 3-year-olds, the two older runners are Sweet Nellie Brown and Perfect Pie.
"This time of year I don't mind running against older horses as much as I would earlier in the season," Wenzel said. "With Perfect Pie and Sweet Nellie Brown in there, it'll be a good gauge to see how she'll fare next season."
One thing's certain – the shorter distance Saturday helps the cause. Exclusive Diva is three-for-three in sprints, and after being beaten three-quarters of a length in the 1-1/16-mile Kent Handicap and a scant head in the 1 1/8 mile Oaks, she scales back to one turn.
Week 23 honors: Jockey - Jennifer Whitaker (8-3-1-1); trainer- Alan Bozell (4-2-0-1); owner - Allen Gideon (2-1-0-1); groom - Niccolo Troiani (Don Munger); Washington-bred - Bartab (breeder Jean Welch). ... Whitaker is the fourth different female jockey to be honored as Jockey of the Week this season, joining Eliska Kubinova (three-time winner), Debbie Hoonan and Connie Doll. ...
Frank Lucarelli leads Tim McCanna 43-40 in the trainers' standings; both have nine horses entered closing weekend. Lucarelli is attempting to win his second straight title and fifth overall, while McCanna is going for his 11th EmD crown. ...
Owner/trainer Don Munger has wrapped up his first owners' title with 19 wins and begins the week on a five-for-11 roll. ...
Awesome Gem, third as the 2-to-1 favorite in the Longacres Mile (Grade 3), returns to action Sunday in the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Fairplex Park. David Flores rides the 9-year-old in the 1 1/8 mile Hinds.
Fiesty Lass makes her single-season record 16th start in Saturday's seventh race. Trained by Bonifacio Rayas, the 4-year-old filly is 2-2-6 in 15 starts at the meet for Blue Diamond Stable & Jon Malcolm. ...
Monday and Tuesday simulcast wagering will be offered this week at the Quarter Chute Café, and at Champions Bar beginning Monday, Oct. 1.