For the Reporter
Hit the Beach overhauled Buckley Bay past mid-stretch and drew off for a 3¼-length victory in Sunday’s $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for 3-year-olds and up.
The third and final week of Xpressbet.com Washington Cup also featured the $50,000 WA Cup Filly and Mare Stakes, in which Fly Far Away rolled from behind for a 9 to 1 upset over Dontkissntell.
Ridden by Jose Zunino at 120 pounds, Hit the Beach ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.14 and paid $18.20, $10 and $6. H.R. Mullens –becoming the oldest trainer to wins a stakes at Emerald Downs – is trainer and co-owner with Ed Zenker of Tacoma and Richard Larson of Snohomish.
Claimed for $25,000 last year, Hit the Beach has now won three times in 2018, and with Sunday’s score 91-year-old Mullens surpassed Don Munger as oldest trainer to win a stakes at Emerald Downs. Munger, who died last year, was 88 when Roveing Patrol won the Diane Kem Stakes in the 2012 Washington Cup.
Hit the Beach turned in an awesome performance Sunday. Biding his time behind a dueling Buckley Bay and Mike Man’s Gold, the winner was angled off the rail into the stretch and exploded past the leaders to win convincingly.
“The hole inside didn’t open, so I went outside and he did the rest,” Zunino said. “He was very strong today.”
A 5-year-old Washington-bred by Harbor the Gold-Hit a Star, Hit the Beach is 4-4-3 in 16 career starts with earnings of $83,055, including $25,850 for Sunday’s triumph. His sire now has eight stakes wins at the meeting and 64 lifetime at Emerald Downs, far and away No. 1 all-time.
Buckley Bay also ran a big race Sunday, shaking off heavily-favored Mike Man’s Gold into the stretch and turning aside all challengers except Hit the Beach. Ridden by Gary Wales at 118 pounds, Buckley Bay paid $14.60 and $12.20.
Hey Sequoia, a 3-year-old ridden by Kevin Orozco at 116 pounds, flew late to finish third and paid $8.40 to show, while Elliott Bay, the other 3-year-old in the race, finished fourth.
Mike Man’s Gold, bidding for his 20th career victory at Emerald Downs, dueled with Buckley Bay through fractions of :23.43, :46.70 and 1:10.04, but gave way into the stretch and finished fifth. The 8-year-old gelding has now competed in six Washington Cups, a ledger that includes a victory in the 2014 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic.
Grinder Sparksaglo, Pulpits Power and Double A. Prospect rounded out the order of finish.
Fly Far Away rallies in WA Cup Filly & Mare Stakes
Fly Far Away powered past Dontkisssntell and Gazing in the final yards and scored a 1¼-length victory in Sunday’s $50,000 WA Cup Filly & Mare Stakes presented by Xpressbet.com.
Ridden by Austin Solis at 118 pounds, Fly Far Away covered 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.06 and paid $20.60, $10.60 and $6.40. Blaine Wright is the trainer for owner/breeder Todd and Shawn Hansen of Tenino.
For the connections, the victory was notable on several fronts:
It was the first career stakes win for Solis, 25-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Alex Solis.
For the Hansens, it was their second victory in the last three years in this race; Ethan’s Baby, also a homebred, won in 2016.
And for Wright, Fly Far Away capped an unlikely sweep that saw him capture all five older filly and mare stakes this year with different horses: Invested Prospect, Alliford Bay, Top Quality, Reginella and Fly Far Away.
A 5-year-old Washington-bred by Pleasantly Perfect-Maytown Mistree, Fly Far Away has been a picture of consistency at Emerald Downs this season, compiling a 3-1-1 record in five starts with the losses by a head and a neck. Her overall mark is 4-4-2 in 17 starts with earnings of $74,883, including $24,750 for Sunday’s victory.
Patiently ridden by Solis, Fly Far Away saved ground through the last turn,
angled out into the stretch, and wore down Gazing and a resilient Dontkissntell for the victory.
Solis, who has 20 wins in his first season at Emerald Downs, said the milestone victory was especially meaningful.
“A stakes race was on my bucket list,” he said. “It shows dreams do come true.”
Dontkissntell, one of two 3-year-olds in the race, nearly became the first horse to win two Washington Cup races in the same season. Same as in the WA Cup Sophomore Filly Stakes two weeks ago, Dontkissntell tried taking the field gate-to-wire, dueling with Brilliant Bird through fractions of :23.43, :46.66 and 1:10.54. Dontkissntell saved something for the stretch, brushing aside all but Fly Far Away in the final furlong.
Ridden by Eswan Flores at 119 pounds, Dontkissntell paid $8.80 and $6.40 to place and show, while Gazing, with Rocco Bowen aboard at 120 pounds, finished third and paid $7.40.
Guardian One, Brilliant Bird, No Talking Back, Exit Sixty Slew, Sailingforthsun, Tomorrow’s Fine and I Double Dare You rounded out the order of finish. No Talking Back, the 9 to 5 favorite, was last early and raced wide on both turns.
Wright has nine stakes wins overall this season and is now tied with Tim McCanna for No. 7 all-time with 31 stakes victories at Emerald Downs. … Wright’s two wins Sunday pulled him within five, 43-38, of Jeff Metz in the trainers’ race. … Wright also won an older filly or mare stakes in Vancouver this weekend with Reginella capturing the $50,000 Delta Colleen Handicap at Hastings Racecourse. … Javier Matias and Julien Couton rode three winners apiece on Sunday’s 10-race card. … 2-year-old filly Forty Six Carats ($4.80) debuted nicely with a victory for co-owners Bob Rondeau and Dr. Mark Dedomenico, running six furlongs in 1:10.60. The winner is a Kentucky-bred by Gemologist-Look Who’s Ritzy. … Trainer Mike Puhich had two wins Sunday: Forty Six Carats and Are Rated ($11.40). … Before Sunday’s races, the Washington Racing Hall of Fame Class of 2018 was officially inducted in a ceremony adjacent to the winner’s circle: Doris Harwood (trainer), Juan Gutierrez (jockey), Mustard Plaster (horse), Penney Family (trainer) and George Todaro (lifetime achievement) are the 2018 honorees and career highlight of all winners are available on YouTube. … Harwood, coincidentally, bred Muckleshoot Tribal Classic winner Hit the Beach. … The two remaining stakes in 2018 are the $100,000 Getaway Day Stakes for 3-year-olds and $50,000 Gottstein Futurity for 2-year-olds, both on Sunday, Sept. 23. … Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m., including a $6,502 carryover in the $0.20 Jackpot Pick 7.