Emerald Downs: Explosive Win for Bella’s Back, Alex Cruz sparkles & the Sky lights up!

Paul Beattie


(Auburn, WA) The 1st Saturday night of racing went off with a bang! Literally. A contentious card of 7 races were the pre-function to the traditional huge Fireworks show the track has been known for since their first Fireworks show back in 1998. Of course there was no show last year due to the Covid-19 shutdown. Fans were treated to another terrific Fireworks show following the races but the 7 races run prior were quite a show themselves.

Feature Race

The 3rd race was the Independence weekend feature race for fillies and mares and Bella’s Back with Julien Couton was the 1-1 choice. Couton broke Bella from the gate and quickly pulled out to a 2 length lead. None of the other 4 challengers pressured her in the least maybe thinking the 6 and a half distance would be too much for Bella’s front running style.

Bella’s Back

Despite no pressure, Couton could not slow Bella down and she blazed through the first quarter in 21.97 and the half in 43.93 while extending her lead to 4 lengths and by the top of the stretch drawn away by 6 and ended up winning by 4 and 1/2 lengths stopping the clock in 1:15.07.

Lightly raced and undefeated, Rita Lorraine from the beginning did not want to engage in the hot pace¬† by Bella and sat just behind and never could make up any ground as Bella’s Back did not disappoint and Rita Lorraine was clearly 2nd best finishing 3 lengths in front of the only battle in this race which was for 3rd. Please Me the longest shot on the board at 10-1 with Kevin Radke up nosed out the 2nd longshot Sigrid’s Gold with Jose Zunino for the show. The 3rd choice at 7-2 Blue Mountain Bell broke last and was never a threat.

Bella’s Back earned $8,250 for owner Scott Herbertson, Ari Herbertson trains the Kentucky bred by Hold Me Back out of Bella Bliss by Jump Start and bred by Joe Mulholland Sr. Bella returned $4 on the $2 win. Bella’s Back is now 10-7-3 from 36 career starts and now her lifetime earnings are a little more than $109,000.

Cruz Sparkles

Alex Cruz had a win streak of at least 1 win for 40 straight days going back to last season. The pressure was on Cruz from a simple numbers angle. First, only 7 races were available and in the feature race his mount Red Noon Rising at 7-2 was scratched giving him 6 tries to keep the streak alive. Now it would have taken a herculean effort to beat Bella’s Back but still every chance is precious with limited attempts.

Alex Cruz & Family in Winners Circle

In the 5th race Cruz was aboard #1 Missed the Boat as the 6-5 favorite. The mile race saw Cruz and ‘Boat break well settling into 2nd place just behind 10-1 Gentle Prince. As they worked their way around the 1st turn Missed the Boat would push through on the rail for a 1/2 length lead over Gentle Prince. The 2nd choice at 7-2 Remembertobreathe with Alex Anaya sat chilly in 4th at the half mile pole and then worked up to 3rd place behind by 5 lengths.

At the quarter pole Cruz had Missed the boat well in hand and quickly extended his lead to 5 and half lengths at the top of the stretch and uncorked down the stretch to win by nearly 10 lengths over Remembertobreathe who clearly 2nd best by 5 and half lengths while Christine’s Jack with Franklin Ceballos closed from last to get 3rd.

Missed the Boat extended Cruz’s incredible win streak to 41 consecutive days. Missed the Boat is trained by Blaine Wright and owned by Brian Nash, Ramsey Rutt and Woodway Stable.

Cruz wasn’t finished and won the 6th race as well aboard Queen Breezy at 6-5 on a well timed ride. He sat just behind a scramble for the lead and turning for home rolled through a big opening on the rail and pulled out to a 3+ length win.

Jockeys and Trainers

Juan Gutierrez

Cruz picked up 6 wins this week, 2 each day and now leads Julien Couton by 7 33 to 26. Couton snapped a cold streak with his ride on Bella’s Back in today’s feature. Juan Gutierrez remained hot adding another win after winning 5 of 8 on Wednesday, another 2 wins on Thursday and two more on Saturday. Gutierrez took the opener with a front running win on Street Demand for owner/trainer Robert Bean.¬†Gutierrez also took the 4th race aboard Ididntseethatcomin at 6-5, trained by Bonnie Jenne and owned by the Friendship Stable.

Sean Gilpin got his first win at Emerald Downs when he put Mr Atlantico at 19-1 on the lead in the finale and did not stop holding off 2nd favorite Proud Lion at 5-2 with Kevin Radke by a half length. Coastal Buzz with Cruz up and Field of Hope with Ceballos finished 4rd and 4th. Mr Atlantico was owned and trained by Emil Abrahamson and triggered the best pays of the day with a $41.80 $2 win pay-out, a $105 exacta, a 50-cent Trifecta paying $287 and a $380 reward for the 10-cent Superfecta.

3 trainers got their 1st wins of the season, Robert Bean in his first year at Emerald has been huge in helping fill races with his stable and had been knocking on the door with an 0-2-5 record from 30 starts when he won the opener with Street Demand as start #31 was the one to get his first picture in the Emerald Downs winners circle.

Longtime Northwest trainer Bonnie Jenne got her first win of the season in the 4th race when Gutierrez brought Ididntseeitcomin home. Jenne is now 1-4-3 from 14 starts. Emil Abrahamson got his 1st win in the finale with Mr Atlantico. Abrahamson has a small barn is 1-0-1 from just 3 starts.

Racing resumes on Thursday and then weekend racing begins with a pair of stakes races set to go on Sunday, July 11th with the Governor’s Stakes for 3-year-olds and up and the Washington Legislators Stakes for 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares. Post times are 6p for Thursday, 6:30 on Saturday and 2:30 Sunday afternoon.



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