Emerald Downs: 2-Year-Olds make 1st starts, “Guti” goes off, Cruz streak reaches new level in Feature on Thursday

Paul Beattie


(Auburn, WA) On the final night of Wednesday racing it was quite a card with the first 2-year-old races of the season, the 2020 horse of the year, “Dutton”, making his first run and the all-time Emerald Downs leading jockey, Juan Gutierrez, showing everyone he is on top of the mountain for a reason.

Followed up with another 8 race card on Thursday that saw a Alex Cruz hit a new high in his wins on consecutive days record while it was a strong day for women trainers. Up first our re-cap of the Wednesday races.

Wednesday Card Re-Cap

2-Year-Olds off and Running

Let’s start with the babies hitting the track beginning in the 2nd with with a field 9 going 4 and half furlongs. Of course all were first time starters with the favorites being Cobra Jet from the Frank Lucarelli barn and from the Rising Star Stable Firewalker both at 2-1. Cobra Jet with Juan Gutierrez aboard went straight to the lead held about a half length lead around the far turn but had 6-1 Chumly with Eddie Martinez up going stride for stride and Firewalker was warming to the task as they say with Jennifer Whitaker moving up on the outside.

Frank Lucarelli

Guti though had this timed perfectly and just inside the quarter pole extended his lead back to 2 lengths and finding another gear pulled off to an easy 7 length win. Chumly held well for 2nd by 2 lengths over 32-1 Firing Pin with Alex Anaya riding to overtake Firewalker who settled for 4th.

Gutierrez got the win but he was just getting warmed up. Cobra Jet stopped the clock in 51.04 and is a Washington bred by Curlin to Mischief out of Atta Gal Val by Atta Boy Roy and bred by Mr and Mrs William Griffen. Cobra Jet owned by R.E.V. racing and earned $11,193 for his first win. ‘Jet returned $6.20 on the $2 win.

In the following race for 2-year-old fillies, Juan Gutierrez again found himself on the betting favorite Cadillac Margarita at 8-5. The 2-1 2nd choice was Donne Cattive with Julien Couton aboard. The rest of the 8-horse field was throwin’ darts with odds ranging from 7-1 to 23-1.

When the gates opened Guti again found himself on the lead in the short 4.5 furlong sprint and quickly went out to about a 3-length lead. 13-1 “Slack Tide” was 2nd with Martinez broke well in 2nd with One Ocean and Alex Cruz sitting 3rd. The 3 would start this way and end this way with Cadillac Margarita extending her lead to more than 3 lengths at the top of the stretch and winning by nearly 4. Slack Tide was 2nd and One Ocean 3rd with 2nd favorite Donne Cattive running an even 5th getting nosed out for 4th by Smiling Salsa but never threatened to hit the top 3.

Cadillac Margarita is a Washington bred by Stay Thirsty, out of Special Holiday by Private Gold. The owners are Letha and Steve Haahr, trained by Jeffery Metz and bred by Melvin and Lori Mellick. Caddy returned $5.40, earned $11,193 and stopped the clock in a time of 51.79.

Gutierrez goes on a tear, Cruz extends

Juan Gutierrez

Juan Gutierrez swept the 2-year-olds, the 2nd and 3rd races and wasn’t finished. Guti again was on the betting choice, Oreo’s Dream at 7-5 in the 4th race and broke 1st out of the gates. He was pressured by In the Vault who took a head lead at the half-mile stick but Gutirrez let Oreo run and drew off to a 4 and half length win his 3rd win in a row.

Gutierrez added his own personal pick-4 by winning the 5th race and up on the engine. Juspassiunthru roared out to a 3 and a half length lead and maintained that to the top of the stretch and then added to that lead for the easy win. That was 4 wins in a row and 4 wins out of 5 races for Gutierrez.

His streak would be snapped in the 6th race while another streak was extended. Alex Cruz had won at least 1 race in 38 consecutive Emerald Downs race days stretching back to last season. It looked like Gutierrez might run the table and was on another ride with a good chance in Candy Zip at 9-2. But Cruz would steal Guti’s game plan aboard favored Zatter and broke 2nd but quickly took the lead and drew off to a 2 and a half length win pushing Cruz’s win streak to 39-straight days.


Feature Race

The feature race of the day had all eyes on betting favorite Dutton who was named the Emerald Downs Horse of the Meet in 2020. Dutton was supposed to make his 2021 debut in the Auburn Stakes and was bet down to odds-on but then acted up at the gate and was scratched from the race. It was exactly what he did in his first race in 2020 and would bounce back to win his first official start and in a stakes race.

The public believed Dutton would be ready this time and again bet him down to 3-2. If Dutton was ready he would be tough to beat especially since front speed had been so tough all day. The other 6 were a wide open field from a bettors standpoint with the 2nd fav being Wheel Rally at 7-2 to Take Charge Deputy at 9-1 with only Collusionist as a 20-1 outsider.

Windribbon with Juan Gutierrez

Dutton popped right out as expected and set a blistering pace going the quarter in 21:46, Windribbon sat behind 3 lengths off waiting to see if Jennifer Whitaker on Dutton had enough in the tank to go the full 6-Furlongs. At the half ‘Ribbon began making up ground and was within a length of the front speed at the half which was stopped in 43.62. Gutierrez had Dutton in his sights and Windribbon rolled on by and drew off to a 4-length lead at the top of the stretch won by 7 stopping the clock in an eye-popping 1:07.53

Longshot Collusionist closed well with Javier Matias to run 2nd and Julien Couton got Oh Marvelous Me up in time for 3rd while Dutton held on for 4th. Windribbon went off at 9-2 and paid $11. Windribbon is owned by Seamist Racing LLC and trained by Blaine Wright, his 2nd win of the night and it was Juan Gutierrez’s 5th win of the day, one off the track record for victories in a single day. Windribbon is a California bred by Sway Away and out of Jumanah by Grand Reward and was bred by Seamist Racing.


Thursday Racing Re-Cap

Ladies Night

It was another 8-race card and it began with an all-female training daily double on a night that 10 horses in 6 races would be trained by women and they would win 3 of those 6 races. It began in the 1st race when 1st time starter Lutes Lil Gift went right to the lead and never looked back winning impressively by nearly 10 lengths and under the radar of the bettors who let the filly go off at 8-1. Kevin Radke got Lutes’ out of the gate and let her go, the odds-on choice Cribbs ran a distant second.

Lutes Lil Gift is owned by Horse Haven Creek Farm and Barking Dogs and trained by Rosie Simpkins who picked up her 1st win of the season. In the 2nd race another lady got her 1st training win

Candi Cryderman

while also fooling the public was Shelly Crowe’s Deepingreen. Jose Zunino broke 1st from the 2 hole and quickly pulled away to a 2 and a half length lead and was never challenged. Zunino and Deppingreen forged out to a 4-length lead and cruised to the win. Crowe trains and owns Deepingreen and coupled with Lutes Lil Gift returned $72 on the daily double and kick-started a more than $1,300 50-cent pick 4 pay-off.

The 3rd lady to get a win on the day was Candi Cryderman when Atta Boy Billy came from off the pace to win the 6th race. Juan Gutierrez won 5 races on Wednesday and took 2 wins on Thursday. Cryderman racked up her 6th win of the season and improved to 6-10-6.


Feature Race and Cruz streak hits new heights

Blazingbellablu Alex Cruz up

The feature race was a field of 7 fillies and mares going 6 furlongs. Alex Cruz’s 39-day win streak was on the line with only 2 races left on the card and early betting hammered his mount Blazingbellablu down to near even odds. But as post time approached another entry caught the eye of the betting public and money shifted to For You Only from the Howard Belvoir barn and would go off as the 8-5 favorite while Bella’ drifted up to 2-1.

Cruz would reward those early bettors with a perfectly timed ride. Blazingbellablu would break mid-pack in 5th place but just a few lengths back while Jennifer Whitaker sent “For You Only” to the lead. Zippin Sevenz with Gutierrez up sat 2nd followed by Tothemoonandback and You Go Girl in front of Bella. Gutierrez would let Zippin Sevenz out a notch and took the lead by the 1/2 mile pole with Toothemoonandback on her heels while Cruz urged Bella to stick close and was 3rd on the outside about a length and a half back. As they turned for home, Zippin’ stretched her lead to nearly 3-lengths while Moon threw in the towel and You Go Girl took over 3rd. After the quick break For You Only settled into 4th and ran even the rest of the way finishing 4th.

Cruz set Blazingbellablu down for the drive and cut into that lead that Zip had built. As they approached the 16th pole Gutierrez was asking Zippin Sevenz for more and she was gutting out a terrific run but could not deny Cruz and Bella who ground down the leader to pull out a 3/4 length victory and extended Cruz’s win streak to 40-straight days. Zippin Sevenz held on well for 2nd while “You Go Girl” with Julien Couton finished 3rd.

Charles Essex

Bella is a Washington bred by Grazen, out of Bellomesa by Sky Mesa and bred by Charles Essex and Rainbow Meadows. She is also owned and trained by Essex and co-owned with Petra Lewin. Blazingbellablu stopped the clock at 1:09.23 and picked up $11,495 for the win. Bella has taken to the Auburn track shipping in from Santa Anita after her first 2 career starts where she finished 2nd and 6th. She ran at Emerald in her 3rd lifetime start on opening day and finished 2nd then broke her maiden on June 17th winning by just a neck and then Thursday night’s win in her first start against winners. She is now 2-2-0 from 5 lifetime starts with a career bankroll of nearly $40,000.

Larry’s Round up of News and Notes





Saturday Racing begins with a Bang!
Emerald Downs will host their first Saturday night race card on July 3rd with their traditional Independence Day celebration and Fireworks show following the races. This also marks the shift in the schedule from 2 days a week to 3 and dropping Wednesdays but adding Saturday night and Sunday afternoons. July 3rd is the 1st Saturday and then Sunday, July 11 will be the 1st Sunday card since Father’s Day, no racing on July 4th.

Post time for July 3rd is 6pm but all Saturdays after that 1st race post is 6:30pm. Thursdays will remain at 6pm post time and Sundays begin at 2:30pm. The racing schedule will run through Sunday, September 26 with Thursday racing ending on September 2nd and the final 3 weeks only on Saturdays and Sundays.


Jockey News

Jose Zunino

Juan Gutierrez remains red hot winning 5 on Wednesday and adding 2 more on Thursday for a total of 7 wins with still Saturday racing to go. Alex Cruz has won 4 this week so far, 2 each day to push his total wins to 31 now a 6 win lead over 2nd place Julien Couton who has yet to win this week but still has a 4 win lead with 25 over Gutierrez who now has 21 wins on the year.

Only 6 riders posed for a picture over Wednesday and Thursday and after Gutierrez and Cruz came Jose Zunino who won 2 races on Thursday with Deepingreen in the 2nd and Reelfoot in the 4th to push his season total to 8 wins. Alex Anaya began the week with a win in race 1 on Wednesday guiding Melchior to a 6-length win for his 6th win of the season. Kevin Radke went wire to wire on Lutes Lil Gift in the Thursday opener and now has 10 wins and Javier Matias scored in the 3rd race on Thursday with Secrets of My Soul coming up the rail for the win and Matias now has 9 wins.

Javier Matias (courtesy Aldo Matias)

Matias also suffered a scare on Thursday when his ride in the 5th, Tomorrow’s Mine stumbled tossing Matias on the turn. Matias’s son Aldo Matias reported on his twitter feed that his Dad banged up his knee but was otherwise ok.

Speaking of banged knees jockey Ryan Barber was taken off his later mounts on Wednesday and all his rides on Thursday after banging his knee on the starting gate at the start of a race. He is expected to be back in the saddle again soon.




Trainer Notes
Four trainers have scored 2 wins so far this week beginning with Jorge Rosales. Rosales who was the 2nd leading trainer last year got off to a slow start but his barn is now heating up as he found the Winners Circle in the 1st race on Wednesday with Melchior, Alex Anaya rode and then on Thursday in the 5th with I Want One ridden by Juan Gutierrez. Rosales now has 4 wins and a 4-7-4 record from 24 starts.

Blaine Wright had a pair of wins on Wednesday and pushed him into the leading trainer in purse money with a total of 6 wins and earnings of $116,000. Wright scored in the 5th race with Juspassinthru and then the feature race in the 7th with Windribbon. Both ridden by Juan Gutierrez.

Leading trainer by wins is Joe Toye and pushed his total to 14 with a win on Wednesday as Zatter won with Alex Cruz up and then Javier Matias brought home Secrets of My Soul on Thursday. Toye is winning at an incredible 37% clip with a 14-2-8 record from 38 starts.

Vince Gibson much like Rosales got off to a slow start this season in the win column but has since been on a tear of his own racking up 10 wins for 2nd most wins by winning the finale on both days. Wednesday, Guarding Elk Camp won and on Thursday Todos Santos was an easy winner with Alex Cruz in the saddle for both rides.

Other winning trainers included last year’s Champion and all-time track leader Frank Lucarelli with one and now has 3 wins for the season. Jeff Metz is now 5-5-4 from 27 starts and Greg Moore was the other winner on Wednesday with Oreo’s Dream. Moore with a small stable is making the most of it with a 2-2-1 record from just 7 starts. The other winners on Thursday were as noted above in the Wednesday re-cap Rosie Simkins, Shelly Crowe and Candi Cryderman all picking up wins. Cryderman is now 6-10-6 from 34 starts on the season., Edward Cornier got his 2nd win of the year with Reelfoot and Charles Essex trained the Thursday feature race winner Blazingbellablu. Essex is 6-7-1 from 23 starts.

Blaine Wright
Joe Toye
Jorge Rosales
Vince Gibson










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