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Koala Beach prevails in Pepsi-Cola Handicap, Harwood passes Klokstad in stakes wins | Emerald Downs
Koala Beach out-finished Posse Power and Newfound Man in a thrilling three-horse finish Sunday in the $50,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap for 3-year-olds at Emerald Downs.
Koala Beach finished a nose ahead of 3-to-5 betting favorite Posse Power, with Newfound Man a neck back in third place.
Ridden by Ricky Frazier at 120 lbs., Koala Beach was timed in 1:34 1/5—the fastest time by a 3-year-old in track history—and paid $11.40 $3 and $2.60.
It was a milestone victory for both Frazier and trainer Doris Harwood. Frazier moved ahead of Gallyn Mitchll 65-64 in all-time jockeys’ stakes wins at Emerald Downs. And Harwood moved past Bud Klokstad 43-42 in all-time trainers’ stakes wins at Emerald Downs.
Harwood, 57, has saddled 34 stakes winners the last four seasons including three straight in the Pepsi, and the 2009 Pepsi champion—Noosa Beach—is the top local threat for the $250,000 Longacres Mile (GIII) on Aug. 22.
Posse Power, ridden by Francisco Duran at high weight of 121 lbs, raced wide through the turn and finished well while between Koala Beach and Newfound Man. Posse Power paid $2.40 and $2.10.
Newfound Man, ridden by Inoel Beato at 116 lbs, rallied to the lead past mid-stretch and battled bravely to the wire to just miss the victory. Newfound Man paid $2.20 to show. Silk Street, Michael the Man and Bogachiel completed the order of finish.
A Washington-bred by Harbor the Gold, Koala Beach has compiled a 4-2-1 record in eight starts with earnings of $121,693, including $27,500 for Sunday’s victory. A winner of two stakes as a 2-year-old, Koala Beach had raced just once as a sophomore, finishing a relatively dull fourth in an April 17 allowance race won by the then undefeated Forener.
The effort was so puzzling that Harwood and husband/owner Jeff Harwood decided to ship the gelding to the farm for some rest and relaxation. It seemed to work, as Koala Beach was back on the beam Sunday.
A great ride by Frazier helped the cause. Koala Beach held a slim lead into the lane, but relinquished command as Posse Power and Newfound Man took cracks at the lead. Frazier, however, was able to coax a final flurry from his mount in the finishing strides.
“Both Posse Power and Newfound Man put a half-length on (Koala Beach) in the stretch,” Frazier said. “I knew if I kept riding him hard we would finish third, so I had no choice but to give him a breather. I let him get composed and then he fired right back. He loves the pressure.”
Frazier, Doris Harwood and Jeff Harwood have combined to win three stakes this season with Washington-breds by Harbor the Gold—the Seattle and Budweiser Handicaps with 4-year-old Noosa Beach and the Pepsi-Cola Handicap with 3-year-old Koala Beach.
By Harbor the Gold-Kittyzawallet, Koala Beach was bred by Neal and Pam Christopherson’s Bar C Racing Stables.
Bogachiel, the longest shot in the race at 31-to-1 held a short lead over Koala Beach while setting fractions of :22 2/5, :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5. Koala Beach, Posse Power and Newfound Man all geared up to tackle the faltering leader, and the stage was set for a three-horse battle to the wire.
NOTES: Frazier and Harwood are a combined 17-for-39 in Emerald downs’ stakes races. …Juan Gutierrez had his second four-win day of the season…Frazier finished week 12 with a 47-43 lead over Gutierrez in the jockeys’ standings…Frank Lucarelli and Vann Belvoir are tied for first in the trainers’ standings at 30 wins apiece…Washington-bred Margo’s Gift ($10.20), trained by Harwood for Ken Alhadeff, scored his second straight victory with a nifty 1:14 clocking for 6 ½ furlongs in the $20,000 companion feature for older horses. Best known for his victory in the $250,000 Favorite Trick Stakes in 2007, Margo’s Gift has won 9-of-22 starts with earnings of $348,982. Taif turned in a great front-end effort for second place and He’s All Heart finished third. Mulcahy, racing for the first time in 31 months, finished nicely for fourth place. … Cool-Bird representing the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team crushed his six opponents in the annual Mascot Dash between the fourth and fifth race…Daniel Meyers, the outstanding promotions director at Emerald Downs since 2007, is leaving to take a job in Arizona. Meyers’ final day was Sunday…Live racing resumes Thursday with first post at 6 p.m.