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Noosito, Del Rio Harbor to settle score in Sunday's $65,000 Derby | Emerald Downs

Noosito, ridden by Leslie Mawing, holding off Del Rio Harbor to win the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap on July 13 at Emerald Downs. - Courtesy photo/Erin Palmer, Emerald Downs
Noosito, ridden by Leslie Mawing, holding off Del Rio Harbor to win the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap on July 13 at Emerald Downs.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Erin Palmer, Emerald Downs

For the Reporter

Little has separated 3-year-old stars Noosito and Del Rio Harbor in their illustrious careers, but that could all change on Sunday when they face off in the $65,000 Emerald Downs Derby.

Not only is the 1-1/8-mile Derby the championship event for 3-year-olds, but it also figures to decide who is crowned Top 3-Year-Old Male at the 2014 meeting. Both trained by Doris Harwood, Last Rose Stable's Noosito and Bar C Racing Stable's Del Rio Harbor have swept the sophomore division's three races this season. In fact, the Harbor the Gold geldings have yet to relinquish a single stakes race to another runner since they began the 2-year-old stakes circuit last season.

"They are both such nice horses," Harwood said. "You just can't really separate them."

Heading into The Derby, the score is tied between Noosito and Del Rio Harbor with three stakes wins apiece. Del Rio Harbor, a full-brother to state champion Couldabenthewhisky, had the edge last season 2-to-1 en route to honors as the meet's Top 2-Year-Old Male. Meanwhile, this season, Noosito, a full-brother to state champion Noosa Beach, holds a 2-to-1advantage after he captured the Auburn and Seattle Slew Handicaps whereas Del Rio Harbor took down the Coca-Cola Handicap. As for the new distance, Harwood doesn't think that will separate the pair either.

"I think it will suit both of them quite nicely," Harwood said. "Both mares (Julia Rose and Bahati) have produced a horse that has gone that distance, and I don't think it will be an issue for either one of them."

Aside from the two clear favorites, The Derby has attracted a few interesting runners. Mebossman returns after skipping the Seattle Slew Handicap to run in an optional $40,000 claiming race restricted to state-breds. The Petionville gelding showed his class by trouncing that competition with a 6¾-length victory, which produced a career-high 81 Beyer Speed Figure.

Zoomzoomania rates an upset chance after he showed a promising start to his route-racing career last month winning his first two-turn test by 5 ½-lengths. He'll likely have to improve significantly to catch Noosito and Del Rio Harbor, but Harwood said she never takes a horse race for granted.

"I never discount any horse in the race," Harwood said. "They can sometimes get in the way, they can sometimes affect the way the race is run. That's why you have to always have a Plan B."

• The Press Box Podcast, hosted by Jacob Pollowitz and Vince Bruun, will feature the Emerald Downs Derby with the live race call from track announcer Robert Geller, Joe Withee's Winner's Circle interview, full stakes analysis and an exclusive interview with trainer Doris Harwood. To listen to the live or archived edition, please visit http://www.emeralddowns.com/.

• The Emerald Downs Derby is race eight on a 9-race card with post time 5:39 p.m.

The field for Sunday's $65,000 Emerald Downs Derby (from the rail out, weight 122 points): Oldtimers Vision, Ronald Richard; Zoomzoomania, David G. Lopez; Hillside Select, Isaias Enriquez; Mebossman, Juan Gutierrez; Noosito, Leslie Mawing; Del Rio Harbor, Gallyn Mitchell; The Tom Squad, Anne Sanguinetti.

Mylast Sweet Pea's emerges

If there's ever a time for a 3-year-old filly to be doing her best running, it's heading into Saturday's $65,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs.

Fortunately, Mylast Sweet Pea's emergence into the stakes spotlight has come at the right moment as the Washington-bred by Grindstone-Secret Game looks for her first stakes win in the 1 1/8-mile championship event.

It's been a steady progression for Mylast Sweet Pea considering it was only two months ago she finished third at 50-1 in the Seattle Handicap and second in last month's Kent Handicap at 20-1. Nevertheless, she won't be overlooked on Sunday, and according to trainer Robbie Baze, perhaps she never should have.

"We always knew that she could run from day one," Baze said. "This year she's showed that she can run with some of the best fillies on the grounds."

Ridden by Gallyn Mitchell in five starts this season, Mylast Sweet Pea has compiled a 1-2-1 record in five starts including the two stakes-placed efforts. On Sunday, she'll have to defend the home track against two shippers – Lady Fifty Two and Champagne Gal – that look to take back home the money in their first start at Emerald Downs.

Trained by Hall of Fame's Jerry Hollendorfer, Lady Fifty Two, Rob Rao's 2-to-1 morning-line favorite, comes in from Northern California, where she's won two races at Golden Gate, but has yet to race at a distance longer than six furlongs. Champagne Gal, trained by Michael Puhich, ships down from Hastings Racecourse and comes off a 1 ¾-length win in an allowance race on July 20.

The rest of the field includes the race's only stakes winner Papa's Flashy Girl, third in last month's Kent Handicap, Cheeky Stone and Sunpenny, dead-heat winners in an optional $40,000 claimer on July 26, and recently-claimed Baze runner Quiet Wisdom.

"In the short time I've been with her, I like her a lot," Baze said. "She trains really good and looking at the breeding, she should really like the Oaks distance."

• According to trainer Robbie Baze, he and owner Michael Feuerborn elected to skip the Oaks with last year's Top 2-Year-Old Filly Chu and You in favor of a shorter race in the near future.

• Assistant trainer Kay Cooper said Find Your Spot, winner of the Irish Day Handicap, had a "fantastic work" on Sunday preparing for the Oaks, but that the drill took a little too much out of her and she'll rest on the sidelines for an undetermined amount of time.

• Jockey Alex Bisono will make his first start at Emerald Downs on Sunday aboard Champagne Gal in the Oaks. As of Thursday, Bisono ranks fifth in the jockeys' standings at Hastings Racecourse with 18 wins.

• The Washington Oaks is race eight on a 9-race card with post time 5:54 p.m.

The field for Saturday's $65,000 Washington Oaks (from the rail out, weight 120 pounds): Cheeky Stone, Eliska Kubinova; Champagne Gal, Alex Bisono; Papa's Flashy Girl, Anne Sanguinetti; Quiet Wisdom, Rocco Bowen; Mylast Sweet Pea, Gallyn Mitchell; Sunpenny, Isaias Enriquez; Lady Fifty Two, Leslie Mawing.

Hats and Heels Day returns Saturday

Hats and Heels Day makes its return to Emerald Downs on Saturday as a track-wide event to help carry on the tradition for race fans to dress their best at the racetrack.

Emerald Downs has partnered with Valley Girls & Guys of Maple Valley – the nation's largest Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" breast cancer awareness team – to provide 19 vendors on Track Level from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. All purchased admissions can take part in the "vendor shopping."

The track will also host the EmD Afternoon Tea event in the Trackside Tent. Ticket prices per person for adults are $45, for children, ages 5 thru 10, its $20 and for children, ages four and under, its $5. The package includes a $5 donation to Valley Girls & Guys, admission, an Official Program, a Parker's Picks tip sheet, a special buffet, seating in the Trackside Tent, a $5 discount in The Gift Horse and advice from one of the track's expert handicappers. Reservations can be made over the phone at 253-288-7711 until noon on Friday.

To help raise breast cancer awareness, jockeys have been encouraged to wear special pink caps while riding throughout Saturday's races. Emerald Downs will also donate a percentage of the vendor booth fees and the EmD Afternoon Tea tickets to Valley Girls & Guys.

Notes

Weekly honors: Jockey-Jorge Rosales (7-1-0-0); Trainer-Chris Stenslie (8-2-1-2); Owner-S P P LLC (2-1-0-0); Groom-Oscar Rodriguez (Joe Toye); Washington-bred-Ugottabcatty (breeder Bill Nooney). ... Dare Me Devil earned a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure for his neck victory over Scat Daddybaby in Sunday's feature race. A 6-year-old Washington-bred by Devil On Ice-She Can Too, Dare Me Devil ran the meet's second fastest 6 ½ furlongs, 1:13.64, and has now won back-to-back 6½-furlong sprints in less than 1:14. Scat Daddybaby's runner-up effort snapped a four-race win streak, but still notched a career-high Beyer of 89. ... Jebrica received a 79 Beyer for his 2¾-length win in Saturday's feature race and was subsequently claimed for a track-record tying $50,000 by trainer Michael Puhich for owners Mark Dedomenico and Glen Todd. ... Congratulations to trainers Dino Apostolou and Jim Fergason for picking up their first Emerald Downs victories this season. Apostolou's Mr Shane the Pain scored a last-to-first 1½-length victory on Friday, while Fergason's Harbor Design prevailed over even-money favorite Charlie's Gold by a head on Sunday. ... Emerald Racing Club's Dancing Yodeler will make his fifth start for the 128-member syndicate on Saturday, when the 6-year-old gelding takes on six rivals racing six furlongs for a $3,500 tag. A California-bred chestnut by Swiss Yodeler, Dancing Yodeler sports a nifty 1-1-1 record in five starts for the ownership group since being claimed at Golden Gate on April 4. ... On Friday, 5-year-old mare Kenzie Carolina will face the boys for the second time this season, taking on five geldings in the sixth and feature race. An Oregon-bred by Baquero, Kenzie Carolina comes off a 5¼-length win on July 19, in which she earned a career-high 76 Beyer. Friday's event is for 3-year-olds and up running one mile for a $20,000 ($20-18) tag. The field includes Songandabullet, looking to become the fifth horse with at least four wins at the meet, and former stakes winners Posse Power and Jack the Pirate*Horse racing won't be the only game played at Emerald Downs this weekend as the track also hosts the second annual EmD 3-On-3 basketball tournament in the North Parking Lot. The two-day event starts Saturday at 8 a.m. and concludes Sunday evening. Sports Radio 950 KJR AM's Brian Abker will host a live remote show from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday at Emerald Downs. ...

Heading into Week 18, trainer Jeff Metz leads Frank Lucarelli 42-to-31 in the standings, while jockey Leslie Mawing holds a 66-to-51 advantage over Rocco Bowen. ... Speaking of Lucarelli, the four-time training champ has three former Emerald Downs runners racing on Saturday at Santa Rosa. Gallant Son, the 2009 Top 2-Year-Old Male, makes his first start since Dec. 28 in the $50,000 Jess Jackson Owners' Handicap going five furlongs on the turf. He'll also saddle Kenai King, who was 1-1-1 in seven starts at Emerald Downs this season, and maiden Wedding Kake, who had a second and two thirds in five starts at the meet. ... Lotta Attitude, trained by Blaine Wright for owners John & Janene Maryanski and Gerry and Gail Schneider, will make her first start in Friday's second race – a $40,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies – at Del Mar since finishing fourth in the June 1 Seattle Handicap. ... Owner Michael Feuerborn has a 2-year-old El Corredor filly, Class Is Beautiful, looking to make her first career start on Sunday in a maiden special weight going 5½ furlongs on the turf at Ellis Park. Currently fourth on the also-eligible list for trainer Grant Forster, Class Is Beautiful is out of A Classic Life, a quadruple stakes winner at Emerald Downs who produced 2012 Horse of the Meeting Class Included. ... Apparently, the family of Emerald Downs' controller Joe Henry can play ball. His 8-year-old daughter Brenna Henry and the Auburn Acers (10 and under) won the Western National Championship last week, defeating teams from Washington, Oregon and California. ... Northwest connections represented well in Monday's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale at Saratoga, where Dr. Rodney Orr's broodmare Shandra Smiles had a Gio Pointi filly that sold for $500,000. Shandra Smiles, who raced exclusively at Emerald Downs and won the 2001 Federal Way Handicap, produced Grade One winners Smiling Tiger and She's a Tiger. Also in the sale was a Giant's Causeway colt out of 2008 Emerald Distaff winner Lemon Kiss that sold for $300,000*Warm weather continues this weekend at Emerald Downs, with high temperatures of 79 on Friday, 81 on Saturday and 86 on Sunday. ... Pending Washington State Commission approval, Emerald Downs will not race Friday, Aug. 29. The track will still be open for simulcast wagering on Friday and will have live racing Saturday and Sunday with a special Labor Day racing card on Monday.

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