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Family affair for Matias; Polish Dollar returns | Emerald Downs

Top Sprinter Polish Dollar is back in action Saturday at Emerald Downs. The 8-year-old gelding, winner of 13-of-35 starts, is trained by Bob Meeking for owner Sharon Radke. - Courtesy photo/Emerald Downs
Top Sprinter Polish Dollar is back in action Saturday at Emerald Downs. The 8-year-old gelding, winner of 13-of-35 starts, is trained by Bob Meeking for owner Sharon Radke.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Emerald Downs

For the Reporter

It's all in the family for jockey Javier Matias this season at Emerald Downs.

The jockey – known by his peers as Javier and by his fans as Matias – but for his 20-year-old agent Aldo Zamora, "Dad" will do just fine.

In horse racing, families working together have become so common that it's almost cliché, a young son carrying the book of his journeyman father, however, is not. It's not unheard of for a father to work as agent for his jockey son, i.e. Robbie and Dylan Davis, but the other way around might be a first.

Despite the interesting dynamics involved, Zamora is up to the challenge, and his hard work has begun to produce results.

Opening weekend, Matias rode two long shot winners and the 42-year-old jockey is scheduled to ride seven horses this weekend. One of those is multiple stakes winner Mike Man's Gold, whom Matias rides in the Saturday feature race. Another is Southern Solution – a five-time winner last year and candidate for the track's Top Claimer. Still, Zamora recognizes there's much work to be done.

"Once the meet gets really going, the business should start to open up a little bit more," he said. "Sometimes you get the horse, sometimes you lose the horse. You just have to keep after it. Fortunately, Dad is a good product for the horsemen. He's finished seventh here the last two seasons. "

Zamora must get his work ethic and tenacity from his dad, who recently surpassed Amir Cedeno for 14th all-time with 318 wins at Emerald Downs and who is widely considered one of the better stakes riders at the track. That will likely be a big selling point for Zamora as he and his father prepare for the 29-race stakes schedule that begins May 11 with the Hastings Handicap. That's a lot of pressure for an apprentice agent*even if his father is the one signing the checks.

"You'd think that it would be easier working for your Dad, but it's not," Zamora said. "I just don't want to let him down. I have to try as hard as I can."

So far that mantra has worked well, as Zamora has beaten a path traversing the stables while seeking out trainers as early as 5 a.m. A proud papa, Matias is impressed with his son's progression as an agent.

"Now he's beating me to the racetrack in the morning," Matias said. "He was pretty quiet a few years ago, but nowadays he talks to everybody. He's smart and he knows all the horses. I'm just happy he gives me first call."

Champion sprinter Police Dollar returns Saturday

Saturday's nine-race card features a stellar $17,950 feature race for 3-year-olds and up with a $32,000 claiming price. The six-furlong dash marks the season debut of 2013 Emerald Downs Top Sprinter Polish Dollar, an 8-year-old gelding that seems to get better with age.

Unraced as a 2-year-old and winless in four starts at age 3, Polish Dollar broke his maiden for a $5,000 tag as a 4-year-old in 2010. Since then, the Washington-bred gelding has turned into horse racing's answer to Jamie Moyer, the former Mariner pitcher who found his groove at an advanced age to become the club's all-time wins leader.

Owned by Sharon Radke of Port Angeles, Polish Dollar is 13-for-35 with earnings of $109,827. Last year, the gelding was 3-2-2 in seven starts, notching six furlong wins in 1:08.09 and 1:08.70, and a 6½-furlong victory in 1:14.69.

"He's a wonderful horse, and he looks wonderful too," said Polish Dollar's veteran trainer, Bob Meeking. "He just gleams with health."

Meeking, however, said Polish Dollar was too sharp in his early workouts this year, including bullet drills of :33 1/5 for three furlongs and :46 1/5 for a half-mile.

"He inverted his training schedule by going too fast early," Meeking said. "We had to change things around, he's doing very well now."

Polish Dollar needs to bring his A-race Saturday, since the field features several tough sprinters including Fist Full of Green, an improving 5-year-old that defeated odds-on Camp Granada opening weekend, I Keep Saying, a 5-year-old that finished first in four straight sprints here last year, triple stakes winner Mike Man's Gold and 2013 Longacres Mile sixth-place finisher Why Not Be Perfect.

The field for Saturday's $17,950 feature race (from the rail, out): Fist Full of Green, Eliska Kubinova, 124 pounds; I Keep Saying, Juan Gutierrez, 120; Somewhere With You, Jorge Rosales, 120; King of the Sky*, Gallyn Mitchell, 116; Polish Dollar, Felipe Valdez, 120; Mike Man's Gold, Javier Matias, 120; Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 120. *Re-entered Sunday.

Speedy River of Aces headlines Sunday feature

It's rematch time Sunday in the $17,950 feature race for $32,000/$25,000 claiming fillies and mares at six furlongs.

River of Aces, Stephanie Plum and Tabled With Gold – first, second and third in a similar race two weeks ago – square off again in Sunday's ninth race.

A 5-year-old Washington-bred mare by Sam's Ace, River of Aces is 6-1-1 in 13 career starts for trainer Charles Essex, and she's nearly unbeatable when she makes the early lead – a scenario that seems likely again Sunday.

Stephanie Plum, 5-4-2 in 16 lifetime starts, won four races last season and is a formidable competitor for veteran trainer H.R. Pat Mullens. In the April 12 race, she pressed River of Aces from flag fall to finish, but came up a half-length short as River of Aces ran 5½ furlongs in 1:03.32. Perhaps an extra half-furlong will help Stephanie Plum.

Trainer Roy Lumm is off to a great start, compiling a 2-1-1 record with his first five starters including a third by Tabled With Gold, who finished a head back of Stephanie Plum on opening day. The 4-year-old California-bred has never run a bad race, posting a 2-2-2 record in six starts topped by a head victory over 11-time winner Champali Lace in the $12,000 Hit a Star starter allowance last September.

Perfect Pie is 8-9-6 in 32 starts at Emerald Downs and the 7-year-old beat River of Aces at this same condition last July. Lasting Rose is a talented 4-year-old that defeated older fillies and mares last year in a one-mile race. Smokin' Grey is a 5-year-old trained by Frank Lucarelli with a 3-0-0 record in four starts at six furlongs. Miss Communication, a new shooter for trainer Jeff Metz, is a 6-year-old with five wins and over $119,000 in earnings, but appears to favor races around two turns.

The field for Sunday's $17,950 feature race (from the rail, out): Lasting Rose, Anne Sanguinetti, 115 pounds; Tabled With Gold, Gallyn Mitchell, 115; River of Aces, Eliska Kubinova, 119; Perfect Pie, Jennifer Whitaker, 115; Stephanie Plum, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 115; Miss Communication, Rocco Bowen, 119; Smokin' Grey, Leslie Mawing, 119.

Notes

Weekly honors: Trainer – Frank Lucarelli (10-5-2-2); Jockey – Leslie Mawing (9-4-0-5); Owner – W. Quinn Chin (3-1-1-1); Groom – Mauro Avila (trainer Robbie Baze); Washington-bred-Stikine Slough (Bar C Racing Stables Inc). ... Scat Daddybaby earned a career-high 84 Beyer for last Sunday's $21,625 allowance victory in 1:08.20 for six furlongs. ... Mebossman, runner-up to Del Rio Harbor in the 2013 Gottstein Futurity, is among nine 3-year-olds and up entered in Sunday's maiden special weight with a $17,850 purse. Royal Tale, second to Prayer for Da Bric opening weekend, and Calculated Chaos, fifth in the 2012 Barretts Juvenile, also are entered in the 5 ½-furlong dash. . .Southern Solution, one of only two horses to win five races at Emerald Downs in 2013, makes his 2014 debut for trainer Roy Lumm in Sunday's eighth race for $15,000 older claimers. ... Trainer Jeff Metz has plenty of action again this weekend with 10 horses entered Saturday – including multiple entrants in races 4, 5 and 9 – and four entered Sunday. Through four days of racing, Metz is 10-5-2 in 21 starts and Lucarelli is 8-2-5 in 17 starts. ... Rocco Bowen, who had one riding triple last year, already has three this season and leads Isaias Enriquez 10-7 atop the jockeys' standings. ... Make Some Noise, the first foal out of Emerald Downs' stakes winner Kissntheboysgoodby, debuts in Saturday's ninth race for $7,500 maiden claiming 3-year-old fillies. ... Santa Anita Park opens its new spring/summer meet Friday with a special 3 p.m. post time. The opener, a $56,000 purse for 2-year-old fillies at 4 ½ furlongs, is Southern California's first juvenile race of 2014. ... Saturday is a big day for trainer Blaine Wright. At Santa Anita, Wright sends out Peter Redekops's talented Alert Bay in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds at 1 1/8-miles on turf. A City Zip gelding, Alert Bay is 3-3-0 in six starts with earnings of $187,800. At Golden Gate Fields, Wright entered Chappell Alpine Farms' Hudson Landing in the $100,000 San Francisco Mile (G3) on turf. Wright said he would be at Santa Anita, where Alert Bay faces seven foes including the multiple stakes-winning Tamarando. ...

The Tim McCanna-trained Pepnic also runs in the San Francisco Mile, as does 2013 Longacres Mile nominee Summer Hit. ... Saturday is opening day at Churchill Downs with the $150,000 Derby Trial, a one-turn mile, serving as the traditional opening day feature race. Bob Baffert entered both Bayern and Chitu in the Grade 3 event. ... Chicks Special Angel, fourth at 3-to-5 in the $60,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge Stakes last year, notched an easy one-length victory in Sunday's $1,800 Stakes Trial for older fillies and mares at Sun Downs. ... Hastings Racecourse celebrates opening day of its 51-day meeting Sunday with an eight-race card at 1:50 p.m. A stakes double-header kicks things off with the $50,000 George Royal for 3-year-olds and up at 6½ furlongs and the $50,000 Brighouse Belles for older fillies and mares at 6½ furlongs.

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