Runner-up in the race a year ago, Kool Odds took down the top prize Sunday in the ninth running of the $61,200 Bank of America Emerald Downs Championship Challenge at Emerald Downs.
Ridden by Naka Ramirez – the first woman rider to win the race – Kool Odds finished a neck in front of For Sweet Jess, with 6-to-5 betting favorite Cm Boom Shakalaka three-quarters of a length back in third place.
Kool Odds ran 440 yards in :22.02 and paid $7.60, $5.20 and $2.80. Mark Hanson of Chubbuck, Idaho is the winning trainer and co-owner with Robin Dunn of Rigby, Idaho.
The victory capped a big afternoon for Hanson and Dunn, who also teamed with Thrill of the Cartel to win the $35,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge for 2-year-old quarter horses.
A native of Blackfoot, Idaho, Ramirez said she was grateful to ride Kool Odds in place of Nikeela Black, the jockey who rode the gelding to a runner-up finish last year and subsequently suffered severe injuries in a spill in eastern Idaho.
“Last year when Nikeela rode him, (Kool Odds) ran a phenomenal race,” Ramirez said. “When he switched gears today, he just took off.”
Racing on the far outside, Kool Odds led all the way and held off 19-to-1 long shot For Sweet Jess for the victory.
A 4-year-old California-bred by Favorite Cartel, Kool Odds earned $26,322 and is 6-4-2 in 14 starts with earnings of $74,013. He also won the $50,000 Sandy Downs Championship Challenge last month in Idaho Falls.
For Sweet Jess, ridden by Alex Anaya, dueled with the winner from gate to wire and paid $13 and $5, while Cm Boom Shakalaka, the fastest qualifier three weeks ago, held third under Javier Matias and paid $2.20.
Rounding out the order of finish were L Bar D Razle Dazle, Favorite Bling, Wagonfullofdividends, Love to Reason Br, L Bar D Genuine Red, Tickle Ur Fancy and I Aint Callin.
With the victory, Kool Odds earned a berth in the $250,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (Grade 1) on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Albuquerque Downs.
Thrill of the Cartel captrures John Deere Juvenile
Thrill of the Cartel tagged John Carter Cash and Senor Frogs in the final strides and scored a head victory in the $35,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge for 2-year-old quarter horses.
Ridden by Jesus Canales, the winner ran 350 yards in :18.26 and paid $13.40, $4.80 and $4.60. Mark Hanson is the trainer for owners Hanson Racing of Chubbuck, Idaho, and Kevin and Robin Dunn of Rigby, Idaho.
A Texas-bred gelding by Favorite Cartel, Thrill of the Cartel earned $16,785 and is 3-0-1 in five starts with total earnings of $25,160.
John Carter Cash, the 6-to-5 favorite, finished second but was disqualified and placed fifth for interference leaving the starting gate.
Senor Frogs, 8-to-5 second choice, finished third and was elevated to second and paid $2.80 and $2.60. Royal Pay Bac finished fourth and was placed third and paid $9 to show.
Cm Once Ina Bluemoon wins distance challenge
Heavily favored Cm Once Ina Bluemoon and jockey Javier Matias overcame the outside post and led gate to wire for a 3¼-length victory in the $23,000 Emerald Distance Challenge Stakes for older quarter horses.
Owned and trained by Nick Lowe of Ridgefield, Cm Once Ina Bluemoon ran 870 yards in :45.94 and paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
Breaking alertly from post No. 7, Cm Once Ina Bluemoon quickly cleared the field and found the rail, turned back L Bar D Bonnie Lee into the lane, and won with authority.
A 4-year-old Oregon-bred by Ivory James, Cm Once Ina Bluemoon is 2 for 2 at the meet and 9-5-4 in 26 starts lifetime. Sunday’s victory, worth $11,271, upped his bankroll to $64,771.
Heza Gamer finished second and paid $3.60 and $2.40, and L Bar D Bonnie Lee finished third and paid $2.40. Snowbound Preacher, Flyin Rocks, Jealous Jess and Candy Secret rounded out the order of finish.
General Mach Four ($2.60) and Das Bear ($3.20) – both trained by Jorge Rosales – became the first five-time winners at the meet with victories in Sunday’s third and seventh races. Eddie Martinez rode both and is 17 for 53 this season combined with Rosales. … Kevin Krigger also rode two winners and has 21 wins in 12 days since arriving from Ohio earlier this month. … Washington Oaks winner Killarney Lass breezed three furlongs in :37 2/5 Sunday and is being pointed to the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks on Saturday, Sept. 7. A victory in the 1 1/8 mile B.C. Oaks would earn a $25,000 bonus being offered for a sweep of the Washington Oaks and B.C. Oaks. … Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m.