In 73 days, the first ever Championship Sunday will be presented at Emerald Downs, featuring four championship stakes in one afternoon of racing on Sunday, Aug. 11. The centerpiece of Championship Sunday is the 84th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile, culminating the four-race series for 3-year-olds and up.
The first race – the $50,000 Governor’s Stakes at six furlongs – drew a field of seven and goes as Sunday’s seventh race at 5:09 p.m.
With Barkley sidelined, the division is up for grabs, but Anyportinastorm and Sippin Fire will be the top two choices Sunday.
Multiple stakes winner Anyportinastorm invades from the Bay Area for owner Peter Redekop and trainer Blaine Wright. A 5-year-old by City Zip, Anyportinastorm is 4-0-2 in six starts at six furlongs and possesses tremendous speed on either dirt or synthetic – winning the $100,000 Zia Park Sprint in 1:07.92 on dirt (90 Beyer) and $75,000 Lost in the Fog in 1:08.80 on Tapeta (94 Beyer).
Juan Hernandez, second currently at Golden Gate with 102 wins, rides Anyportinstorm and that usually means trouble for the riders at Emerald Downs. Hernandez is 5 for 10 in stakes the last four years at Emerald Downs including a victory on Mucho Amor in the Seattle Stakes three weeks ago.
Sippin Fire comes off a fine season debut, finishing second to Barkley in a $21,500 allowance test at 5½ furlongs three weeks ago. A 4-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding owned by How We Roll #4 and trained by Steve Bullock, Sippin Fire might be better around two turns, but he did win the Coca-Cola Stakes at 6½ furlongs last season en route to Horse of the Meeting.
Todd and Shawn Hansen’s Oh Marvelous Me, also trained by Wright, finished third in the aforementioned allowance race, and is 6-3-5 in 18 lifetime starts at Emerald Downs including a third in last year’s Longacres Mile.
For sheer speed, Gary and Maureen Hallett’s Cody’s Choice is one of the quickest sprinters on the grounds, compiling a 4-4-0 record in 11 starts the last two years. His runner-up finish to Awhitesportscoat on April 28 looks even better considering Awhitesportscoat came back to romp in the $50,000 George Royal last week in Vancouver.
Richard Sena’s Grinder Sparksaglo is a hard-hitting, 8-year-old equally capable around one turn or two. Hit the Beach won two late-season stakes at Emerald Downs’ in 2018, but has yet to fire in a pair of starts this year. Clemans View Racing’s Tumac Mountain is sharp, recording a win and a second in two starts at the meet, but is stepping way up in class Sunday.
Wasserman in 2008 is the last horse to win the Governor’s and Longacres Mile in the same year.
The field for the $50,000 Governor’s Stakes, 6 Furlongs: 1-Oh Marvelous Me, Jorge Carreno, 120 pounds; 2-Anyportinastorm, Juan Hernandez, 124; 3-Cody’s Choice, Javier Matias, 118; 4-Grinder Sparksaglo, Juan Gutierrez, 118; 5-Tumac Mountain, Patrick Henry Jr., 118; 6-Hit the Beach, Jose Zunino, 118; 7-Sippin Fire, Gary Wales, 122.
Racing this week
• Friday, May 31
6:30 p.m. (7 races)
• Saturday, June 1
2 p.m. (7 races)
First Responders Day
• Sunday, June 2
2 p.m. (8 races)
$50,000 Governor’s Stakes (3&up, 6 furlongs)
Hawk Fest (1-5 p.m. in the Park)
With 19 wins in 15 days, trainer Frank Lucarelli is on pace to break the single-season record of 66 wins shared by Tim McCanna (2008) and Jeff Metz (2015). Lucarelli already has three triples: April 20, May 17 and May 24. … Summerland is the 2-to-5 favorite in Saturday’s $50,000 Emerald Downs Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Hastings Racecourse. A 3-year-old by He’s Tops, Summerland is 6-0-0 in seven career starts with earnings of $139,919. … Emerald Distaff winner Reginella makes her 2019 debut in a $33,000 allowance Saturday at Golden Gate Fields. Owned by Luigi DiPietro and trained by Blaine Wright, Reginella won a pair of nine-furlong stakes last year: the Emerald Distaff and the Delta Colleen at Hastings.