Sorelli defends title in Sunday’s $55,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship

Quarter Horses take center stage Sunday with the seventh running of the $55,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge at 440 yards for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.

An 11-horse field – largest in the history of the race – is led by defending champion Sorelli, who breaks from post-position eight with Osvaldo Gonzalez the rider at 124 pounds. A 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred mare, Sorelli could become the first repeat winner of the race.

“Sorelli is sharp, she’s feeling good,” said trainer Roddina Barrett, who took down first and second last year with fillies Sorelii and Stella Corona. “She just ran a solid third in (in the Jack Rhoden Challenge) at Prineville. We used that in place of a work.

“We had a little bit of bad luck at Sun Downs for the finals, so hopefully we have a good safe trip Sunday. Sorelli is ready, and hopefully the racing gods on our side.”

Owned by Tim Floyd (Warlock Stable) and Kelly Dougan, Sorelli has done her best work at Emerald Downs. She is 4-1-1 in six starts here with earnings of $37,363, and is 1-1-0 in two starts at 440 yards.

Los Alamitos shipper Air Force Won is the probable favorite Sunday. The 4-year-old New Mexico-bred gelding, Air Force Won is 6-3-2 in 15 starts lifetime with 97,170 in earnings. Trained and owned by Valentin Zamudio, Air Force Won comes off an easy allowance win last month and jockey Eswan Flores rode Sorelli to victory in last year’s race.

There are three Quarter Horse races Sunday.

The 11-race card begins with the $15,000 Distance Challenge at 870 yards for 3-year-olds and up, followed by the $15,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge at 350 yards for 2-year-olds.

In the Distance Challenge, Barrett saddles probable favorite Rare Ed, a 6-year-old old Illinois-bred gelding that captured the 2016 AQHA Distance Challenge (Grade 1) at Los Alamitos.

“He’s a big horse with lots of class,” Barrett said of Rare Ed. “He’s worked here three times and really come to like this racetrack. He is one of the nicest horses in the barn to be around, but he’s all business once you get him ready to go to the track.”

The Distance Challenge drew a field of seven while the John Deere Juvenile Challenge drew a full field of 12, including I Deliver, a Oregon-bred that comes off a win in the $28,000 Firecracker Futurity at Grants Pass.

• The Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge is Race 10 at 6:09 p.m.

• Sunday’s winner qualifies for the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (Grade 1) on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

The field for the seventh running of the Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge at 440 yards with jockeys and weight: 1-Tic Tac Attack, Nakira Ramirez, 123 pounds; 2-Lebron 6, Luis F. Gonzalez, 124; 3-Separatefromdarest, Ruben Castro, 124; 4-Gone Fast, Jake Samuels, 124; 5-Surf N Turf Dude, Alonso Rivera, 124; 6-Secretly Fast, Luis A. Gonzalez, 124; 7-Flyin Rocks, Jorge Rosales, 121; 8-Sorelli, Osvaldo Gonzalez, 124; 9-L Bar D Genuine Red, Kassie Guglielmino, 121; 10-Jeses Claim Ta Fame, Eduardo Gutierrez-Sosa; 11-Air Force Won, Eswan Flores, 124.

Washington Racing Hall of Fame announces class of 2017

Noosa Beach, winner of a record 11 stakes at Emerald Downs, has been elected to the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, Emerald Downs has announced.

Also announced as winners in their respective categories are trainer Marion L. Smith and breeders Rick and Debbie Pabst, while Dr. Mark Dedomenico will be honored for Lifetime Achievement in Washington racing.

The 15th annual induction ceremony is Sunday, Aug. 27 on Washington Cup Day, with inductees to be honored in the Winner’s Circle.

A look at the 2017 winners as voted by representatives of the Washington HBPA, WTBOA, Emerald Downs and media:

Male Horse – Noosa Beach: Washington-bred son of Harbor the Gold-Julia Rose won 13-of-20 starts and $463,305 at Emerald Downs, including the 2010 Longacres Mile. Trained by Doris Harwood and owned by Jeff Harwood, Noosa Beach won Horse of the Meeting titles in 2010 and 2011, and was Washington Horse of the Year and Top Handicap Horse in 2010 and 2011.

Trainer – Marion L. Smith: A native of Junction City, Kansas, “Million Dollar” Smith, accomplished one of the greatest feats in Washington racing history – twice winning the Longacres Mile with rejuvenated claimers. Pitch Out, claimed for a then state-record $16,000 by S.J. Agnew, prevailed in the 1971 Mile; and Snipledo, claimed for a record $60,000 by Robert Resoff, won the 1990 Longacres Mile.

Breeder – Rick & Debbie Pabst: Proprietors of Blue Ribbon Farm, a 70-acre stallion station and nursery in Buckley, where they bred state champions Find Your Spot (2014 3-year-old Filly), Finding More (2012 2YO Filly), Jebrica (2011 3YO Colt), Atta Boy Roy (2009-10 Sprinter & 2009 Handicap Horse), She’s All Silk (2006 3YO Filly) and Dancin’all the Way (1990 2YO Colt).

Finish lines

Longacres Mile champ Gold Rush Dancer has returned to southern California, and trainer Vann Belvoir said no decision has been made on a next race for the 4-year-old California-bred colt. … Mach One Rules, Dedicated to You and Stryker Phd, second third and sixth in the Longacres Mile, are eligible for the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Sunday, Aug. 27. Nominations close Saturday for all six Washington Cup races. … Citizen Kitty earned a career-high 85 Beyer for her victory in the Emerald Distaff, and trainer Jeff Metz said the 5-year-old Proud Citizen mare is a go for the $50,000 Washington Cup Filly & Mare Stakes. … Little Dancer earned a career-high 83 Beyer while finishing runner-up in the Distaff, and trainer Doris Harwood said the 3-year-old Successful Appeal filly is headed to Vancouver for the $100,000 BC Oaks on Saturday, Sept. 9. A Little Dancer victory would earn owner Ron Schmid a $25,000 bonus (U.S.) for sweeping the Washington Oaks and BC Oaks. … The maiden victory Sunday by 2-year-old gelding My Heart Awakens is the first victory for freshman sire Alternation, a 9-year-old son of Distorted Humor that stands at Pin Oak Farm in Kentucky. … Saturday simulcast action features Arrogate in the $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Post time is 5:30 p.m. … Carr Creek, winner of a $3,500 claimer here Sunday, broke his maiden at Emerald Downs way back on Sept. 11, 2010, and finished seventh to Couldabenthewhisky in that year’s Gottstein Futurity.