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First season at track nets Metz trainer title and more | Emerald Downs
Coming into Emerald Downs' 2013 session, trainer and owner Jeff Metz had modest aspirations.
For years a fixture at tracks in California and at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, the 46-year-old Californian just wrapped up his first season in the Pacific Northwest.
"I was just hoping to be in the top three, so people knew we were there, so they knew there was a new face in town," he said.
This past weekend Metz proved he was more than just a new face at Emerald Downs by snagging three coveted season honors, including: Trainer of the Year, with 42 winners saddled; Owner of the Year with 20 wins for his stable Saratoga West; and Best Older Filly or Mare for E.Z. Kitty, which he trains for owner Bruce Maller.
"I never would have thought I'd do this good," Metz said.
For much of the season Metz traded leads in the trainer race with perennial contender Frank Lucarelli, who finished with 39 wins.
"I knew some guys had bigger barns, so I was surprised," he said. "But we stayed steady the whole season. Some trainers started hot, and some finished hot, but we were consistent the whole time. We were first and second in the standings the whole time."
"The trainer title (means a lot) just because that's about consistency over time," Metz said.
Metz added that it also parlays into more work with local owners.
"The last month some local Washington owners have called," he said. "Most of the horses I've been training are from owners in California and Arizona. So this opens doors with the locals. Some of them are actually going to send horses down to me at Turf Paradise."
Metz was also honored for his work this year with Washington-bred, 5-year-old mare E Z Kitty, who notched five first-place finishes, three seconds and two thirds in 10 starts this season.
E Z Kitty also distinguished herself this season with an impressive three stakes wins, including a 3 1/2 length victory in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff, and earnings of $165,024.
"That's about taking a good horse and getting her better and consistent," Metz said.
With the Emerald Downs season in the bag, Metz is headed to the winter session in Phoenix, which begins Saturday and wraps up in May. Metz said he expects to be back at Emerald Downs in April to prepare for the 2014 session.