Best of Me took control into the turn and romped to an impressive three-length victory over stable mate Bella Mi in Sunday’s $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes for older fillies and mares.
With Franklin Ceballos aboard at 119 pounds, Bella Mia ran 6½ furlongs in 1:16.04 and paid $6.60, $3.80 and $2.40. Blaine Wright – continuing his stakes dominance – is the winning trainer for owners Todd and Shawn Hansen of Tenino, Wash.
A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old by Super Saver, Best of Me is two for three at the meet, and atoned for a fourth as the betting favorite month last month’s Hastings Stakes. In the latter, Best of Me was bumped off stride late and lost her best chance.
Best of Me enjoyed clear sailing Sunday. Ceballos guided the bay filly through an opening inside and gained command into the turn, wresting the lead from Ima Happy Cat, and that pretty much was it. She Me was two lengths clear into the lane, running the half in :44.17, and drew off to win with complete authority.
Winning her first stakes, Best of Me improved to 4-0-1 in nine starts with $136,130 in earings, including $26,400 for Sunday’s victory.
Bella Mia, ridden by Juan Gutierrez, edged Dontkissntell for second to complete the Wright exacta and paid $3.80 and $2.60. A 4-year-old Washington-bred by Harbor the Gold, Bella Mia is 5-4-2 in 12 starts lifetime with $160,923 in earnings for John and Janene Maryanski. She’s finished second in both stakes this season, but was placed fifth for interference in the Hastings.
“I’m very proud of both fillies, and super happy for Shawn, Todd and Ethan,” Wright said. “And Ceballos rode a helluva race today.”
Wright has now won five of the first seven stakes this season, and 25 since the start of the 2017 meeting – 18 more then any other trainer.
Dontkissntell, ridden by Ryan Barber at 119 pounds, finished third and paid $2.60. A 4-year-old Rosberg filly, Dontkissntell is 1-1-1 in three starts at the meet including a pair of stakes placings. No Talking Back, Paddy’s Secret, Foggia and Ima Happy Cat rounded out the order of finish.
Wright also has won six of the last seven older filly and mare stakes dating to last year, all with different horses: Invested Prospect, Alliford Bay, Top Quality, Reginella, Fly Far Away and Best of Me. Fly Far Away, also owned by Todd and Shawn Hansen, captured the 2018 Washington Cup Filly and Mare Stakes.
Ceballos has three stakes wins in his first season at Emerald Downs, all riding for Wright, including two aboard unbeaten 3-year-old Baja Sur.
Diamonds R, Always Enuff and Summer Storm were scratched earlier in the day.
The $50,000 Boeing Stakes at 1 1/16 miles is next for older fillies and mares on Sunday, July 21.
Jennifer Whitaker celebrated her 48th birthday Sunday and was victorious with her only mount, guiding Perfect Blossom ($3.80) to a maiden triumph in race six for owner/trainer Howard Belvoir. … Sunday’s 10th race was the Bob Whitaker Memorial Purse in honor of Jennifer’s father, who passed away at age 79 in March. … 4-year-old filly Rosso’s Gatto ($14.20) and 3-year-old filly All Star Allie ($5.40) became the meet’s third and fourth triple winners with victories Sunday, both with Eddie Martinez riding for trainer Jorge Rosales and owner Marjorie Avery. … Gary Wales rode three more winners Sunday and now leads Martinez and Kevin Orozco 40-22 atop the riders’ standings. … Wales has at least one win on 16 straight racing days. … Wright has wins on seven straight cards and second overall with 19 wins. He’s expected to saddle Anyportinastorm in the $50,000 Budweiser Stakes next Sunday. … Windy Point ($18.20) debuted with a gate-to-wire victory under Juan Gutierrez in Sunday’s $18,500 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies. … Staracrossthewater ($22.80) led gate to wire to give jockey Francisco Diaz-Lopez and trainer Elodio Madrigal their first wins of the meet. … What are the odds that two New York-breds sired by Courageous Cat would win the same day at Emerald Downs? It happened Sunday as Rosso’s Gatto and seventh race winner Kalla Kab ($29.80) both scored victories on the 10-race card. … At Santa Anita, Washington-bred Pas de Panique ($5.80) prevailed in a $65,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-olds. Trained by Mark Glatt and owned by Where We At, Pas de Panique is out of multiple Emerald Downs’ stakes winner Carrabelle Harbor. … Congratulations to John Lindley, co-owner of Majestic Eagle ($20), upset winner of Sunday’s $100,000 American Stakes (Grade 3) at Santa Anita. Lindley is the long-time publisher of Parker’s Picks and also provides excellent trip notes for emeralddowns.com. … At Grants Pass, Idaho-bred 7-year-old Wild Derby Daze scored a $40.20 upset in the $3,500 Southern Belle Stakes for older fillies and mares. … Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m.