Stryker Phd capped Sunday’s Washington Cup XI with a sensational 3 1/4-length victory in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for Washington-bred 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.
For Stryker Phd, the victory was a breakthrough of sorts. The runner-up in all four open stakes races for older handicap horses at the meet, including a second to Herbie D in the $200,000 Longacres Mile last month, Stryker Phd proved beyond doubt he is the best older horse stabled at Emerald Downs.
Under regular rider Debbie Hoonan at 118 pounds, Stryker Phd took the lead from Polish Dollar into the stretch, and drew off for a powerful score in 1 minute, 40.99 seconds for 1 1/16 miles. Margo Lloyd trains the winner for owners Jim and Mona Hour of Bellevue.
The winning time is second fastest of the meet for the distance, exceeded only by Herbie D’s 1:40.52 in the Mt. Rainier Handicap in July. And the victory confirmed Stryker Phd as a bona fide talent, whose string of seconds had more to do with unfavorable pace scenarios and the presence of Herbie D than anything else.
Stryker Phd was among several outstanding performances in Washington Cup XI – which included a series of six $50,000 stakes race exclusively for Washington-bred runners. Among the highlights: a stakes victory by Chantal Sutherland-Kruse in her first mount at Emerald Downs; E Z Kitty and Chu and You both notching their third stakes wins of the meet; and a hard-fought triumph by Noosa’s Beach’s younger brother Noosito.
A 4-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Bertrando-Striking Scholar, Stryker Phd earned $25,000 to push his bankroll to $124,466. His overall record is 2-4-4 in 11 starts and the connections are considering a return to Northern California, where he broke his maiden on the turf last year.
Stryker Phd was closer to the pace than usual, some six lengths back, as Memphis Beach, chased by I Keep Saying and Polish Dollar, sailed through splits of :23.18, :46.19 and 1:09.95. Polish Dollar took the lead on the last turn, and the gallant 7-year-old gelding would finish a good second, but the race was pretty much over once Stryker Phd kicked into high gear, rallying inside his rivals into the lane.
“The first part of the race the leaders were going around wide,” Hoonan said. “The track was easy on the inside there, and then someone came in there and took my path.
“Isaias (Enriquez) had me boxed in pretty good there, but it was set up just enough to where I could get through. Stryker Phd is a dream horse for me.”
Polish Dollar, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 122, was clearly second best and paid $3.80 and $2.40. The tough campaigner is 13-for-35 lifetime with earnings over $110,000.
Jebrica, the 3-to-2 second choice ridden by Isaias Enriquez at 124, finished third and paid $2.10. I Keep Saying finished fourth, followed by defending champion Kooky Saluki and Memphis Beach.