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Canadian contingent weighs in on Sunday's $200,000 Longacres Mile | Emerald Downs
With Hastings Racecourse shipper Herbie D one of the favorites in the $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, two of Canada's most respected handicappers offered their opinions on Sunday's Grade 3 race.
To heat up the family rivalry, your intrepid reporters have asked Dan Jukich, the track announcer at Hastings Racecourse and Fraser Downs and his son Matt Jukich, Hastings' Director of Player Development, to share their thoughts on the Northwest's most prestigious race.
Interestingly, both Jukichs handicapped separately, but as they say, like father, like son. Both felt that Herbie D, who's won four stakes at Hastings, had the talent to win The Mile, but that postposition No. 10 and a likely quick early pace might hinder the 5-year-old gelding's chances.
"I'd really like to make a case for Herbie D," Dan Jukich said. "I just don't know what kind of trip he's going to get.
"Most of his best races have been on the engine and he's going to have to work to get the lead."
Expecting fast early fractions, the Jukichs sided with a stretch-runner exacta in reverse order. The elder
Jukich chose 7-2 morning-line favorite Politicallycorrect, over Jebrica and Golden Itiz, while the younger Jukich took Jebrica on top, with Politicallycorrect and Golden Itiz underneath.
"I hate picking the chalk, so I'll let my dad pick the favorite," said the younger Jukich, poking fun at his dad's selection. "I think Jebrica is an interesting horse in this race and could upset a tough field."
Emerald Downs-based Jebrica impressed Canadian onlookers at Hastings, where the 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding compiled a 1-2-0 record in three starts including a half-length victory in the 2011 BC Premier Handicap at 1 3/8 miles. Jebrica comes into The Mile after winning the Budweiser Handicap on June 16, followed by a third-place effort in the Mt. Rainier Handicap on July 21.
Aside from the horses, Dan Jukich said he was really impressed with the Mile jockeys' colony this year.
"It is quite a jockey crew that you guys got down there," he said. "There's the best in the business with Russell Baze.
"Aaron Gryder is always tough and even Dennis Carr and Gerry Olguin are solid riders, too. Oh, and how can I forget our main man Mario Gutierrez?"
Stryker Phd looks to pass Longacres Mile test
With Stryker Phd safely in the race, Margo Lloyd was finally able to take a deep breath, exhale, and focus on the task at hand – trying to win the Northwest's biggest race with Jim and Mona Hour's 4-year-old Bertrando gelding.
At 8-to-1 on the morning line, Washington-bred Stryker Phd would appear to have the best chance of the local contingent in this year's Longacres Mile, although Jebrica, a 12-to-1 shot from the barn of five-time Mile-winner Jim Penney, also will have backers.
"His season has been a nice surprise for the owners and I," Lloyd said. "Although I wasn't too surprised because I could see his talent every day.
"We're happy with everything coming into the weekend. He'll gallop one more time Friday and then well just hope for good weather."
Weighted at 116 pounds, Stryker Phd wasn't guaranteed entry until connections decided to ship Commander and Shrug to Edmonton for a stakes race at Northlands Park. This is Lloyd's first Mile starter, and the second for jockey Debbie Hoonan, who finished seventh on 50-to-1 Norm's Nephew in 2007.
Longacres Mile notes:
• Sunday's card includes three $0.50 Pick 4s (1-4, 5-8, 8-11).
• Longacres Mile nominees Commander (4-to-5) and Shrug (5-to-2) are the top two morning line choices in Saturday's $50,000 Westerner Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Northlands Park.
• The Pacific Sound chorus will perform the national anthem Sunday at Emerald Downs.
• In addition to the 40 flat screen TVs given away Sunday– 10 after each race – one additional TV will be given away to fans on the Emerald Downs Facebook page.
• The $22,575 Pete Pedersen Memorial goes as Sunday's 10th race. Assessment, who lost a shake with Until You to determine the final spot in the Longacres Mile, is among a field of six entered at one mile.
• A promising Sunday weather forecast calls for a high temperature of 75 degrees and less than a 10-percent chance of rain.
The field from the rail out for the 78th running of the Longacres Mile (Race 8, 5:32 p.m.): Until You, Juan Gutierrez, 114 pounds; Hoist, Mario Gutierrez, 117; Politcallycorrect, Russell Baze, 121; Gladding, Dennis Carr, 116; Stryker Phd, Debbie Hoonan, 116; Jebrica, Isaias Enriquez, 118; Golden Itiz, Gerry Olguin, 116; Tres Borrachos, David G. Lopez, 118; Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 118; Herbie D, Amadeo Perez, 121; Mr. Bowling, Aaron Gryder, 117; Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 117.
Exclusive Diva faces tough test in $65,000 Distaff
Trainer Tom Wenzel and owner Northwest Farms could clinch another title Sunday when Exclusive Diva heads a field of seven older fillies and mares in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff at 1 1/8 miles.
A star-studded field that features five multiple stakes winners meet in this year's renewal, but Exclusive Diva might prove tough to deny. A 4-year-old Northwest Farms homebred by Bernardini-Puxa Saco, Exclusive Diva is 7-4-1 in 12 starts with earnings of $194,828 and has won four stakes at Emerald Downs.
"She's a lot of horse for how little she it," said Wenzel, who estimates Exclusive Diva at less than 15 hands and 1,000 pounds. "She looks like a 2-year-old."
A major factor Sunday will be pace, and Exclusive Diva and jockey Juan Gutierrez might have to go form the one-hole, and a potential battle could ensue with both E Z Kitty, her season-long rival at Emerald Downs, and Evelyn's Dancer, the monster filly from Canada who seven stakes at Hastings Racecourse. But Wenzel wouldn't reveal strategy.
In fact, the trainer said he's most concerned that Exclusive Diva, a light filly, would have to carry co-high weight of 121 lbs while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles. In her only previous attempt at nine furlongs, Exclusive Diva was beaten a head by Champagneandcaviar in last year's Washington Oaks.
"The longer the race, and especially once you get up to 1 1/8 miles, weight becomes a factor," Wenzel said. "She should be OK, pedigree-wise, but her mother was more of a sprinter."
With three different winners in as many races, the filly and mare division is up for grabs, and a victory by either Exclusive Diva or E Z Kitty would pretty much settle the issue with voters. And if Exclusive Diva wins, she joins stable mate Stopshoppingdebbie as 2013 champions in the Wenzel barn. The latter filly completed a sweep of the 3-year-old filly ranks with a romp in the Washington Oaks last week.
The field from the rail out for the 18th running of the $65,000 Emerald Distaff (Race 6, 4:24 p.m.): Exclusive Diva, Juan Gutierrez, 121 pouds, E Z Kitty, Anne Sanguinetti, 120; Whiskey Miner, Debbie Hoonan, 110; Royal Moses, Javier Matias, 115; Champagneandcaviar, Russell Baze, 115; Evelyn's Dancer, Aaron Gryder, 123; Wando Woman, Amadeo Perez, 117.
Harwood holds a set of aces in $50,000 WTBOA Lads
Doris Harwood, the most dominant trainer with juvenile runners in track history, looks to besiege the field with three entrants in Saturday's $50,000 WTBOA Lads Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 6½ furlongs.
Despite leading all trainers with 130 2-year-old wins including 19 in stakes races, Harwood has never captured the WTBOA Lads. While the Lads has eluded Harwood, she has been so dominant in 2-year-old stakes races that even if she had never started a 3-year-old or an older horse, she would still rank 10th all-time in stakes wins.
On Saturday, she'll saddle one-third of the nine-horse field, with each of her runners possessing a strong chance to capture the Lads. Del Rio Harbor and Kenai King have begun a stable rivalry with each runner trading a decision in their first two starts. Del Rio Harbor, the Lads high weight at 120 pounds, holds a slight edge over Kenai King with his win coming in the Emerald Express.
Even with Del Rio Harbor and Kenai King's success, Harwood's least experienced runner, Noosito, could wind up the Lads favorite. Noosito earned the meet's highest 2-year-old Beyer Speed Figure of 67 on Aug. 3, when he cruised five furlongs in 1:03.43 to win by three lengths. On Wednesday, Noosito added further appeal when he breezed four furlongs in :49 flat (1/9) – a bullet on the day's work tab. After the workout, jockey Isaias Enriquez had high praise for the Washington-bred colt.
"He was doing it very easy," Enriquez said. "He's a classy horse, and I think he's ready."
Both Noosito and Del Rio Harbor own a sibling connection that exudes class. Implied in his name, Noosito is the younger brother of 2010-11 Horse of the Year Noosa Beach, as well as last year's Washington State Champion 2-Year-Old Music of My Soul. And Del Rio Harbor is a full brother to Couldabenthewhisky, 2010 Washington State and Emerald Downs Champion 2-Year-Old.
The field from the rail out for the 32nd WTBOA Lads: Kendini, Javier Matias, 114 pounds; Noosito, Isaias Enriquez, 116; Stikine Slough, Juan Gutierrez, 116; Kenai King, Anne Sanguinetti, 116; He's Zubberific (s), Nathan Chaves, 114; Twentyten, Ronald Richard, 114; Nicolas Cajun, Debbie Hoonan, 116; Mebossman, David Lopez, 114; Del Rio Harbor, Rocco Bowen, 120. (s) Supplemental nomination
Weekly honors: Trainer – Chris Stenslie (10-4-2-1); jockey – Ann Sanguinetti (14-5-1-1); owner – Mark & Holly Rydman (2-1-1-0); groom – Oscar Mariscal (Stopshoppingdebbie, Washington Oaks); Washington-bred: Wasserman (breeder Howard Belvoir). ... Worldventurer received an 83 Beyer and Stopshoppingdebbie a 79 for their wins in the Emerald Derby and Washington Oaks, respectively. Worldventurer ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.79 and Stopshoppingdebbie ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.65....Worldventurer is headed to the Sept. 8 B.C. Oaks at Hastings Racecourse, where a victory would make the Texas-bred the first horse since Winning Machine in 2009 to sweep the Emerald Derby and B.C. Derby. ... Trainer Tom Wenzel said owner Jerre Paxton (Northwest Farms) has yet to map out a plan for Stopshoppingdebbie, but after sweeping all four stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs, said it's likely the Curlin filly would get a break. Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie, second and third in all four races, could remain at Emerald Downs for possible allowance races. ... Saturday's first two races are 440-yard trials for the $60,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge on Sept. 1. Devon Dat Cash, winner of the 2011 final in a 17-to-1 upset, is in Saturday's first race, along with Vodka With Ice, who finished second in 2011 and third in 2012.