State champion as a 2-year-old, Baja Sur showed Sunday that he might be the dominant 3-year-old at Emerald Downs in 2019.
Returning from a 10-month break, Baja Sur stormed to a five-length victory over Runningwscissors in the $50,000 Auburn Stakes for 3-year-old colts or geldings.
The winning time – a sterling 1:07.98 – broke the stakes record and is the fastest six-furlong clocking of the meet. Blaine Wright is the winning trainer for owners John and Janene Maryanski and Gerald and Gail Schneider.
Ridden by Franklin Ceballos at 119 pounds, Baja Sur paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.20.
A Washington-bred gelding by Smiling Tiger-Premo Copy, Baja Sur is undefeated and virtually untested – winning his three career starts by a combined 20¾ lengths. In his two starts at age 2, Baja Sur broke his maiden by 5¼ lengths before rolling by 10½ lengths in the King County Express.
Sunday’s victory, worth $25,300, boosted Baja Sur’s earnings to $59,950.
Baja Sur broke alertly and took command early, setting fractions of :21.90 for the quarter-mile and :44.50 for the half. Shaking off Fuzzy Dolphin into the lane, Baja Sur opened a three-length advantage past mid-stretch, running five furlongs in a blistering :56.13, and widened his lead to the wire.
Runningwscissors emerged from the pack to finish second and paid $3 and $2.40. Gary Wales rode the runner-up at 117 lbs.
Perfect Dude and Rally Cap, also trained by Wright, finished third and fourth, while My Grandpa, Lansky, Emily’s Gold, Todo Es Toro and Fuzzy Dolphin completed the order of finish.
Barring something unforeseen, Baja Sur figures to be a prohibitive favorite when 3-year-olds reconvene for the $50,000 Coca-Colas Stakes at 6½ furlongs on Sunday, June 16.
Wright has won the first two stakes of the meet and has 22 Emerald Downs’ stakes wins since the beginning of the 2017 season. Wright is No. 7 all-time with 33 stakes wins. … Wright missed Sunday’s race due to travel, after saddling Anothertwistafate to a 10th in the Preakness Stakes. Coco Lopez and Steve Menne handled saddling duties with Baja Sur, Perfect Dude and Rally Cat. … Franklin Ceballos was the lone rider with two wins Sunday. … Through 11 days of racing, Gary Wales tops the riders’ standings with 13 wins while Frank Lucarelli leads the trainers’ standings with 13 wins…Ima Happy Cat blazed five furlongs in a bullet :58 flat Sunday in advance of the $50,000 Hastings Stakes for older fillies and mares on Memorial Day…Congratulations to Connie Doll (Camel), Cody Gibson (Zebra) and Megan Canady (Ostrich) for victories Sunday in the third annual Exotic Animal Races. … Cody’s father, trainer Vince Gibson, also had a big day with a pair of wins: Hold That Smile ($3.80) in race two and Meanee ($15.60) in race six. … Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m.