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Thomas goes for glory in Seattle Slew, faces Harwood trio | Emerald Downs
For the Reporter
Trainer Doris Harwood will have them surrounded Sunday in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-old colts & geldings at 1 1/16 miles.
The track's all-time leader with 63 stakes wins, Harwood has an excellent chance to increase her record to 64 when she sounds out Del Rio Harbor, Noosito and Kenai King in the 38th running of the Slew.
Del Rio Harbor and Noosito will undoubtedly be the top two betting choices Sunday. Del Rio Harbor, high-weighted at 122 pounds, romped by 2½ lengths in the one-mile Coca-Cola Handicap and is undefeated around two turns. Noosito, second on the weights at 120, prevailed by five lengths in the 6½-furlong Auburn Handicap, and Noosa Beach's younger brother obviously is very talented.
Charlie Thomas will attempt to play the spoiler role Sunday for trainer Dan Markle and owners Sue and Tim Spooner. A fast-closing third in the Coca-Cola, Charlie Thomas has proven an astute $12,500 claim, compiling a 2-2-3 record in nine starts and over $40,000 in earnings.
"I called Tim (Spooner) and told him that I kind of liked this horse Charlie Thomas, and he told me to just claim him," said Markle, recalling the Nov. 22 claim at Golden Gate. "I said, 'Well, wait a minute. You haven't even read The Racing Form yet.' And he said, well just claim him.
"I thought maybe he was just getting tired of me asking about horses to claim, but it turns out they had a guy named Charlie Thomas that worked on their (strawberry) farm, so the name just clicked with them."
Markle won't forecast a victory Sunday; he has too much respect for Del Rio Harbor and Noosito. Moreover, Charlie Thomas got sick after the Coca-Cola and missed a few days of training. But he said Charlie Thomas might have finished closer in the Coca-Cola without traffic woes, and said the Seeking the Dia gelding is a born router.
"He got checked a little at the quarter-pole, where he had a little difficulty getting through on the rail," Markle said. "I think without that mishap we would've run a little bit better, so we're going to give him another chance.
"He got sick on me about a week after the last race. He didn't get real sick, but he did get a headache for a few days. He breezed really nice the other day, so he seems back to his normal self.
"Del Rio Harbor and Noosito are unbeatable I think. Those two horses are pretty hard to separate. They are gigantic and Doris (Harwood) has them going really good. The only chance we can beat them is if we get the right pace set up. The best thing I can hope for is for them to go really fast in the first half mile and then back up at the end.
• All three Harwood runners-Del Rio Harbor, Noosito and Kenai King-are Washington-breds by Harbor the Gold.
• The Seattle Slew Handicap is race eight on a 10-race card with post time 5:50 p.m.
The field for Sunday's $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap (from the rail out, with handicap weights): Charlie Thomas, Felipe Valdez, 117 pounds; Noosito, Leslie Mawing, 120; Del Rio Harbor, Gallyn Mitchell, 122; Kenai King, Rocco Bowen, 116.
Wiener Dog Races return
The wiener dogs will be back in full force Sunday when Emerald Downs hosts the 18th Annual Kent & Alan STAR 101.5 Wiener Dog Races.
Two-time defending champion Ben Norman, a 7-year-old Dachshund of Lake Stevens, makes his highly anticipated return after winning last year's contest despite enduring a some traffic trouble in the early yards. His pack brother, Max Throttle, looks to exact revenge against the champion after suffering a narrow defeat in last year's contest.
Sunday's 10-race Thoroughbred program begins at 2:12 p.m., with the dogs expected to make their first appearance at 3:30 p.m. There will be two qualifying heats, consisting of 10 dogs each, between races three and four. The fastest five dogs from each heat will compete in the championship event after race five.
Equine Art on display
The 16th annual Emerald Downs Equine Art Show – Equine Art 2014 – is available for viewing during live racing hours from Friday through Sunday, located parallel to the Winner's Circle on Track Level.
Thursday, a panel of judges awarded over $5,000 in prizes in more than a dozen categories including the Stanley A. Gilman Best In Show Award. Hosted by track announcer Robert Geller, the preview party and reception begins at 7 p.m. and the awards presentation starts at 8:30 p.m.
Each piece of art is available for purchase and race fans and art enthusiasts are encouraged to participate in this year's Angie Crockett Memorial People's Choice Award, which is voted on each year by the racing public. According to co-chairperson Anne Sweet, there are 230 pieces of art on display, 30 of which represent the kids (12 and under) and intermediate (ages 13 to 18) categories.
The Washington Thoroughbred Foundation in conjunction with Emerald Downs and the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association presents Equine Art 2014. For more information, visit www.washingtonthoroughbred.com.
Weekly honors: Jockey-Jennifer Whitaker (8-2-3-1); Trainer-Bob Meeking (2-2-0-0); Owner-Benchmark 28 (1-1-0-0); Groom-Ramon Fernandez (trainer Howard Belvoir); Washington-bred-Seattle Game (breeder Larry Hillis). ... Stopshoppingdebbie earned a career-high 87 Beyer for her stakes record performance in the Boeing Handicap, while Goin to the Window earned a career-high 82 Beyer for her runner-up effort to her stable mate in the Boeing. Stopshoppingdebbie's winning time, 1:34.20, is one tick off the fastest mile by a filly or mare in track history. Singing Year ran one mile in 1:34 on June 14, 1998. ... Sunday's $18,900 sub-feature race for 3-year-olds and up at one mile features five evenly-matched runners: Polish Dollar, Troop Ship, Fist Full of Green, Perfect Night and Rocky's Quest. ... Dancing Yodeler of Emerald Racing Club is back in action Sunday, dropping slightly in class to $3,500 claiming, and picking up leading rider Leslie Mawing as jockey. ... Northwest Farms and trainer Tom Wenzel debut Awesome Indian in Sunday's $17,850 maiden special weight at five furlongs. By Indian Charlie-Clear in the West, Awesome Indian worked a half-mile in a bullet:46 from the gate June 29. ... Mr. Top Kat goes for his fourth straight victory and fifth win of the meet Sunday in the fourth race for $5,000 claimers at six furlongs. Mr. Top Kat and Cha Cha Latte each have four wins at the meet, one behind He's a Cruiser. Cha Cha Latte, meanwhile, goes for his fifth win in Saturday's seventh race. ... Howard Belvoir said multiple stakes winner Winning Machine has been shipped to Del Mar, where the 8-year-old gelding will be trained by Gary Mandella.