Trainer Jeff Metz looks to make mark at Emerald Downs

Trainer Jeff Metz - Courtesy photo
Trainer Jeff Metz
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A top Turf Paradise trainer was at Emerald Downs on Thursday to tour the stable area and make plans to ship in a large stable of runners for the 75-day meeting that begins April 19.

Trainer Jeff Metz, a 46-year-old native of Alameda, Calif., met with Director of Racing Bret Anderson, and said his string of 30 horses would arrive at the Auburn track on April 9 or 10.

Metz currently is fourth in the standings at Turf Paradise, where his 42 wins place him one win behind Mike Chambers for third place. Metz said his runners are a "good fit" at Emerald Downs. In fact, many trainers have made the Emerald Downs/Turf Paradise circuit over the years, a group that presently includes Robbie Baze, Joe Toye and Jonathan Nance.

"Except for when I was six or seven years old, this is my first time to Seattle, and everything is very nice," said Metz, whose wife Jennifer is an association clocker at Santa Anita. "I'm looking forward to the meet. My horses are a little bit of everything and that's the goal, to have a balanced stable."

The star of the stable is Whynotbeperfect, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred claimed for $40,000 that has rattled off two dominating stakes triumphs in Phoenix. Owned by J.C. Racing, whose partners include the father of jockey Anne Sanguinetti, Whynotbeperfect earned a 95 Beyer in dominating the Hank Mills Sr. Handicap, running one mile in 1:35 1/5. Naturally, then, the goal would be to have the son of Whywhywhy run in the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade III) on Aug.18.

Metz said his owners have enthusiastically supported the idea of running at Emerald Downs, and credits agent Denise Mitchell and exercise rider Kyrie Baze with nudging him to come north.

In terms of development, Metz said Whynotbeperfect is the best horse he's trained, but said the most accomplished would be Interpatation, a Langfuhr gelding who defeated Gio Ponti in a Grade I race in New York before joining the Metz stable in 2009.

Metz cut his training teeth in Southern California, where he worked for top-notch outfits like Bruce Headley and Dan Hendricks, and for many years operated a small public stable at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. His decision to relocate to Phoenix a few years back has paid big dividends, his win total rising every year at Turf Paradise: from 15 in 2009-2010, to 19 in 2010-11, to 23 in 2011-12, and already 42 in 2012-13.

Even before the Metz horses arrive, the numbers are promising with nearly 800 horses already on the grounds – up over 125 from the same date last year.

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