For the Reporter
Dan Markle, No. 9 all-time with 357 wins at Emerald Downs, has trained some fine horses here over the last 22 years. But according to Markle, nothing compares with Ima Happy Cat, the gray 3-year-old filly that scored by 2½ lengths in the $50,000 Seattle Stakes on May 20.
Round two is Sunday with the $50,000 Kent Stakes at 6½ furlongs. A field of six 3-year-old fillies entered the race, but all eyes will be on Ima Happy Cat, who looped the field under Rocco Bowen to win going away in the Seattle.
“Without bragging too much, she’s clean as a silver dollar,” Markle said of Ima Happy Cat. “She does everything right, as perfect as you could picture a horse. She’s laid back around the barn and talented on the racetrack.”
Owned by Sue and Tim Spooner, Ima Happy Cat showed promise last year as a 2-year-old with a third and a second in two starts in maiden special weights. That was a mere foundation for 2018, as Ima Happy Cat has been explosive in both starts as a 3-year-old.
Returning to action April 28 at Golden Gate, she romped by 3¾ lengths in a $31,000 maiden special weight while running six furlongs in 1:09.90 on Tapeta. Shipped back to Emerald Downs for the Seattle, Ima Happy Cat collared 2017 track and state champion juvenile filly Bella Mia into the stretch lane and covered six furlongs in 1:09.68. Ima Happy Cat has Beyers of 74 and 70, which tower over her five rivals Sunday.
Ima Happy Cat comes by her talent naturally. A California-bred by Smiling Tiger-Infernal McGoon, her mother won two stakes at Emerald Downs and was voted Top Older Filly or Mare of 2003, and an older older sister, Talk to My Lawyer, defeated males in the 2011 Gottstein Futurity.
The second through fifth place finishers in the Seattle – Bella Mia, Brilliant Bird, Diamonds R and Spot On – all return for another crack at Ima Happy Cat. The only new shooter is Downwind, a daughter of Curlin, coming off a 3 3/4-length maiden special weight victory at Golden Gate.
• Favorites are 2-4 in stakes this season, although Ima Happy Cat was 2-1 second choice and Bella Mia the 9-5 favorite in the Seattle.
• Average field size is 8.5 horses through four stakes races.
• Favorites have lost the last two runnings of the Kent, including Alliford Bay at 3-10 in last year’s race won by Risque’s Legacy.
The field for Sunday’s $50,000 Kent Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, 6½ furlongs, Race 7, 5:34 p.m.: 1-Bella Mia, Julien Couton, 119 pounds; 2-Spot On, Austin Solis, 117; 3-Brilliant Bird, Kevin Orozco, 117; 4-Ima Happy Cat, Rocco Bowen, 123; 5-Downwind, Jose Zunino, 117; 6-Diamonds R, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 117.
Racing this week
• Friday, June 8
6:30 p.m. (7 races)
Indian Relay Races-Day 1
• Saturday, June 9
2 p.m. (8 races)
Belmont Stakes (3:46 p.m.) advance wagering Friday
Indian Relay Races-Day 2
• Sunday, June 10
2 p.m. (9 races)
$50,000 Kent Stakes (3yof, 6½ furlongs)
Indian Relay Races-Day 3
Indian Relay Racing this weekend
Twenty-one teams representing eight Indian Nations from six states and two provinces will be competing in the $65,000 Muckleshoot Gold Cup this weekend at Emerald Downs. Starr School, from Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Montana, will be looking to defend their 2017 Gold Cup championship.
There will be three relay races each day plus full cards of Thoroughbred races. There are $65,000 in cash prizes for the teams, including $10,000 for winning Sunday’s championship heat at 6:45 p.m.
Indian Relay Race schedule
• Friday, June 8
Relay Heat 1: 6:40 p.m. (after 1st EmD race)
Relay Heat 2: 7:58 p.m. (after 3rd race)
Relay Heat 3: 9:16 p.m. (after 5th race)
• Saturday, June 9
Relay Heat 1: 2:42 p.m. (after 2nd race)
Relay Heat 2: 4:25 p.m. (after 4th race)
Relay Heat 3: 5:42 p.m. (after 6th race)
• Sunday, June 10
Relay Heat 1: 3:07 p.m. First Consolation (after 3rd race)
Relay Heat 2: 4:54 p.m. Second Consolation (after 6th race)
Relay Heat 3: 6:45 p.m. Championship (after 9th race)
2018 Muckleshoot Gold Cup teams
Abrahamson Relay, Omak, Wash.
Blanket Bull, Garryowen, Montana
Carlson Relay, Browning Montana
Cayuse Express, Nespelem, Wash.
Cedar Ridge, Blackfoot, Idaho
Grizzly Mountain**, Omak, Wash.
Lakota Warpath, Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Little Badger, Browning, Montana
Mountain River, Harlem, Montana
Northwest Express, Omak, Wash.
Old Sun, Alberta, Calif.
Omak Express, Omak, Wash.
Red Blanket, Browning, Montana
Rides A Pretty Horse, Billings, Montana
River Road Relay, Crow Agency, Montana
Starr School*, Browning, Montana
Tissidimit, Fort Hall, Idaho
T.K. Farrier, Mistawsis, Saskatchewan, Calif.
Two-Tone, Pocatello, Idaho
Umatilla Express, Pendleton Ore.
Young Money, Browning, Montana
*2017 Gold Cup winner
**2016 Gold Cup winner
5 Furlongs :56.52 Das Bear (3yog), May 5
5 ½ Furlongs 1:02.94 Barkley (5yoh), May 13
6 Furlongs 1:08.23 Riser (4yoc), June 3
6 ½ Furlongs 1:15.21 Bullet Express (4yog), May 5
1 Mile 1:35.19 Calex (6yog) May 26
1 1/16 Mile 1:42.81 Oldtimers Vision (7yog) May 28
Last Week: 7-24 (29.1%)
Season: 45-151 (29.8%)
Largest $2 Win: $66 Pretty Miss Vanna (May 26)
$2 Place: $31 Colour of Money (May 11)
$2 Show: $16.20 Vintastic (May 13)
4-Randall and Rossi or Lucarelli Racing
3-Ken Elison or Vicky Jo Elison
3-Rick Kessler or Terra Firma Farm
Nicole Suyama Red Eagle Soaring will perform the Star Spangled Banner all three days this weekend. … Emerald Downs’ stakes winners B C Z Middleton and Risque’s Legacy headline Saturday’s $18,500 feature race for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. The 10-horse field includes recent $25,000 claiming winner Fly Far Away and four-time 2017 winner Jerre to Carrie. …. Also Saturday, 2017 Gottstein Futurity runner-up Trump Itz makes his 3-year-old debut in the fourth race, an $18,500 allowance for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. … Rocco Bowen figures to hit the 500 wins at Emerald Downs milestone this weekend. The meet’s leading rider with 31 wins, Bowen begins Friday with 497 wins at EmD. … Golden Gate Fields’ 2017-18 winter/spring meet concludes with 12-race cards Saturday and Sunday. The Northern California fair circuit begins with Oak Tree at Pleasanton on Friday, June 15. … Former Emerald Downs’ jockey and current California safety steward Luis Jauregui celebrated his 49th birthday Wednesday. … 2013 Emerald Downs’ riding champ Isaias Enriquez is off to an 11-48 start at Sun Ray Park in Farmington, NM. … Aqua Frio, runner-up to Riser in the 2017 Emerald Downs Derby, is 6-1 in Saturday’s $50,000 Spangled Jimmy Handicap at Northlands Park. … Speaking of Riser, his career-high 92 Beyer in the Governor’s Stakes is the largest buy any horse this season at Emerald Downs. … Barkley, runner-up to Riser Sunday, also got a 92 while winning the 2017 Governor’s.