(Auburn, WA) Week 9 was the first week of the Thursday, Saturday & Sunday racing schedule that will remain in place until they go to just weekends after Labor Day. There was plenty for all fans of racing from 2 big Stakes races, Governor’s and State Legislators Stakes, two eye-popping win streaks and big pay-outs for the bettors.
The Governor’s Stakes
The 6 1/2 furlong for 3-year-olds and up Governor’s Stakes was supposed to be a re-match between Baja Sur and Papa’s Golden Boy from the 6 furlong Budweiser Stakes where Papa jetted out of the gate as usual and did not stop to post a nearly 3 length win with Baja Sur chasing.
Baja Sur was the morning line favorite and looked to be the race favorite until a huge bet dropped Papa’s Golden Boy from 2-1 in half to 1-1 on the last click of the odds and Baja Sur ended up tied as the 2nd fav with Windribbon at 5-2. Windribbon was to have raced in the Bud too and no doubt Baja Sur was hoping for Windribbon to flash his early speed and pressure Papa but was scratched at the gate for refusing to load. This time he walked right in and the hope was for a duel on the front end plus this was an extra 1/2 furlong at 6 1/2 furlongs and Papa’s best distance is 6 furlongs or less.
When the gates popped no surprises Papa’s Golden Boy jumped out to a length and a half lead. Jockey Julien Couton got him out of the 1 hole with no issues and quickly set the pace. Windribbon with Juan Gutierrez chased in 2nd while Baja Sur, Franklin Ceballos up and Muncey with Jennifer Whitaker were heads apart for 4th while Take Charge Deputy, Unmachable and Collusionist all sat well back.
Couton allowed Papa’s Golden Boy to settle into his lengthy stride and increased his lead to 2 1/2 at the half mile marker in a blazing time of 43.85. Papa led by 3 1/2 at the top of the stretch and won by 2 1/2. The rest pretty much stayed where they began except Unmachable who closed well for Javier Matias to pass Windribbon late for 2nd. Take Charge Deputy was 4th, Muncey 5th and Collusionist 6th.
Unfortunately, Baja Sur fell in the stretch and suffered a serious leg injury and was vanned off. It was later learned that Baja Sur was euthanized. Jockey Franklin Ceballos hit the track hard and may have suffered a broken collarbone he is expected to be out of action for an undetermined amount of time.
Papa’s Golden Boy stopped the clock in a blazing 1:14.50 and Couton says he was amazed at how fast he ran because it didn’t feel like he was going that hard on the front. He says he believes Papa is maturing and is able to relax a little as Couton pointed out the 22.18 quarter, a similar time in his win in the Bud. Last year he was 21 and change in all 5 sprint races. Couton thinks he can get the Mile and hopes the connections are eyeing the Longacres Mile again where he ran 5th last year.
Papa’s Golden Boy has run all 14 of his career starts at Emerald Downs and is now 6-2-0 and earned $27,500 for his work on Sunday and broke the $100k barrier in lifetime earnings with more than $113,000 in the bank. Papa’s Golden Boy is owned by Gary, Deborah, Jeff and Peyton Lusk and is trained by Vince Gibson. Papa is a Washington bred by Harbor the Gold and out of Brookie Girl by Proud Citizen and was bred by Bar C Racing Stables.
Interview with winning Jockey Julien Couton
The Washington State Legislators Stakes
Another well matched Stakes race in the Washington State Legislators Stakes with $50,000 added for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up. A field 9 was set to travel the 6 1/2 furlongs and there was no clear favorite. Julien Couton when he last won on Papa’s Golden Boy in the Budweiser Stakes also won the other Stakes race that day on Ima Happy Cat in the Hastings Stakes and was looking for another $100,000 daily double.
Several of the entries Ima Happy Cat beat were back in the field with Killarney Lass, Squan’s Kingdom, Dontkissntell, Coco Bee and Daffodil Sweet. In the Hastings, Daffodil Sweet was the odds on 4-5 favorite but hopped at the break and broke last. Jockey Juan Gutierrez told ESN that as soon as some dirt hit her face in that race she didn’t want anything to do with the Hastings languished and finished last.
Daffy broke from the 3 hole with Cat on her outside from the 6 post. Couton took her to the lead and jumped out to a 1 1/2 length lead while Gutierrez got Daffodil to break much better and sat just behind Cat. Killarney Lass, Eyes Open and Dontkissntell all sat behind then came Squan’s Kingdom, Miss Important and Gettin Sideways trailed.
Ima Happy Cat was setting blistering fractions at the same time the track was beginning to get tiring on the front end despite Papa’s Golden Boy’s performance in the previous race going 21.81 for the quarter and 43.88 at the half. That’s when Guti let Daffy go and she rolled right past Ima Happy Cat and took a length lead by the top of the stretch to draw off and win by 2 1/2 lengths in flashy time of 1:15.19.
Ryan Barber did a nice job with Dontkissntell guiding the overlooked 25-1 shot to 2nd by a neck over the deep closing Squan’s Kingdom while Ima Happy Cat gutted out a 4th place finish.
Daffodil Sweet was made the 3-1 2nd favorite in the morning line and that is what she went off at returning $8.80 on the $2 win. Dontkissntell paid $23.80 on the $2 place and the $1 exacta was good for $85. Squan’s Kingdom was 9-1 which paid a handsome $278 50-cent trifecta add the 5-2 favorite and the 10-cent superfecta returned $251.
Daffodil Sweet is now 5-1-0 from 7 starts and earned $27,500 for the win pushing her career bankroll to more than 90k. Daffodil Sweet is trained by Chris Stenslie and owned by the One Horse Will Do Corp and Steve Shimzu. The 4-year-old is a California bred by Ministers Wild Cat, out of Easy On My Heart by Lion Heart and bred by Michael Terry.
Interview with winning jockey Juan Gutierrez
Alex Cruz continues win streak/Juan Gutierrez doubles up and more
Leading jockey Alex Cruz extended his win streak to 44 straight days at Emerald Downs where he had finished 2020 with a least 1 win over the last 25 days and now 19 straight in 2021. It took a while on Wednesday when he picked up a win in the 6th race on Luckenbach at 5-2. Cruz sat Luckenbach in 4th no more than about 3 lengths off the pace and swung out for the stretch drive to get by front runner Freestone and then held off deep closer Loose Ball to win by a half length.
Cruz would come right back and win the 7th race on Big Endeavor also at 5-2 in the feature race. Again, he began just off the pace in 3rd and about the quarter pole made a sweeping and bold move to burst away to a 4 length lead at the top of the stretch and extended to a 5 length winning margin. Slew’s Tiz Whiz with Jose Zunino closed well to be second best and Kowboykabin bobbed Nationheart for 3rd place.
Big Endeavor ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.11 and is owned by Ken Person, Mike Nyland and Eric Amerland and trained by Person. He’s a California bred by Mr. Big out of Taste the Wild by Taste of Paradise and bred by Lisa Wall. Big Endeavor is now 4-2-3 from 14 career starts and added $11,435 pushing his earnings to more than $62,000.
On Saturday, Cruz was close in half the races but ended up with 3 2nds, he extended the streak by winning the 3rd race aboard betting favorite Rocky Jack. Cruz went straight to the lead and quickly built a 3+ length lead, up by 4 at the top of the stretch and cruised to a 3 length win. This was 43 straight days Cruz had visited the Emerald Downs Winners Circle.
With a Stakes race to focus on later on Sunday, Cruz wanted to get a win early so that didn’t hang over him later in the day and he wasted no time to push the streak to 44 days when he won the 1st race on the Sunday afternoon card with Reno Roy. Reno Roy engaged early with favorite Tiz Manny and then kicked it into another gear approaching the stretch and pulled away to an easy 4 length win.
Alex Cruz on his win streak
Juan Gutierrez Red Hot
All-time Emerald Downs winning jockey Juan Gutierrez is on a heck of a streak himself winning at least 2 wins in 6 straight days. The run began on June 30th where he won 5 of the 8 races. The highlight of those 5 wins was taking the feature race on Windribbon who defeated the 2020 Emerald Downs Horse of the Meet, Dutton.
Gutierrez would then string 5 days of 2 win performances. He won back to back in the 5th and 6th races on July 1st with I Want One and Atta Boy Billy, on July 3rd with only 7 races he won the opener on Street Demand with a front running 3 1/2 length victory and then took the 4th race on the favorite Ididntseethatcoming pulling away for a more than 2 length win.
This past week he had 2 wins on all 3 days beginning with Hard to Deny in the 2nd race with a one lead the length win and then came back to take the 3rd race with Downthemiddle Dan with another front running win. On Saturday, Gutierrez scored an upset 9-1 win in the 4th race with Talking Eyes who defeated a 2-5 odds on choice and then won the feature race aboard Lolo Paniolo at 6-1. 2nd favorite Adens Dream led from the beginning and Lolo with Swamp Souffle closed to catch Adens Dream at the wire by a neck and head.
Leading to the 2 wins on Sunday taking the 5th race on Atta Boy Billy, the second time he has won with Billy in this streak at 3-1 and then of course on 3-1 shot Daffodil Sweet in the Legislators stakes.
Other Jockey Notes
Alex Cruz not only kept his win streak alive but his 2nd win last Thursday on Big Endeavor there was a new rider in that race, Cruz’s wife Nicole Disdier. Disdier hadn’t ridden in a race regularly since riding at Mountaineer in 2018. Disdier got aboard Orcadian Storm a 23-1 outsider and finished 11th.
Joree Scriver has moved her tack to Emerald Downs fresh off winning the riding title at Grants Pass. Scriver is expected to ride a lot for Candi Cryderman and the John Parker barn. Scriver will join Jennifer Whitaker, Connie Doll, McKenna Anderson and Nicolle Disdier and may be the largest female jockey contingent in Emerald Downs history.
Julien Couton broke loose with a big day on Sunday with 3 wins. Couton took the 2nd race on Judicial, then repeated with a win in the 3rd on A View From Above and scored his 3rd win of the day on Papa’s Golden Boy in the Governor’s stakes. Couton also won 2 races on Saturday aboard Point Hope and Classic Leah and 1 race on Thursday with Hold Me Close for a total of 6 wins for the week. An additional note, Couton’s victories were not close as the combined lengths he won his races by 31.25 lengths with his largest win by 14 on Hold Me Close and closest 1 1/4 on Classic Leah. This is an average win of nearly 5.25 lengths.
Javier Matias was a triple winner on Sunday winning the 4th race on Gold N Glitter and then sweeping the late double winning the 8th race on Chris the Beaver by a neck and then the 9th on Whidbey Prince. A nice comeback for Matias after banging his knee last week and having to take off a few rides before returning to the saddle. Javier also had a win on Saturday with Miss Monique in the 6th race. Matias now has 599 career wins at Emerald Downs.
Alex Anaya had a pair of wins in week 9 taking the opener on both Thursday with Tumac Mountain and on Saturday with Awesome Image. Meanwhile, Heriberto “Eddie” Martinez also had 2 wins but opposite of Anaya winning the getaway race (8th) on both Thursday and Saturday with Shifty Dancer at 9-5 on Thursday and then 17-1 outsider Freiburg on Saturday. Franklin Ceballos had a win on Thursday as well when he took the 4th race aboard Always For Money.
2 2-year-olds shined
On Sunday there were a pair of 2-year-old races and both featured breathe-taking performances by the winners. In the 3rd race a field of 7 went 5-furlongs and it wasn’t even close. The 2-1 favorite A View From Above with Couton aboard broke 1st and quickly pulled out to a 4 length lead. Extended that lead to 6 at the top of the stretch and won by 7. The quarter time was 21.91 and finished in 57.63. A View From Above is trained by Kay Cooper and owned by the Grasshopper Stable and William Stenberg. He is a Washington bred by Abraaj out of Deja Views by Forest Camp and was bred by Mr and Mrs Frederick Pabst.
The 4th race was a 4 1/2 furlong sprint for fillies and a field 6 loaded up for the run. Gold N Glitter from the Frank Lucarelli barn went off as the 9-5 favorite and did not disappoint her backers. Matias was aboard and quickly took a 3 length lead running the quarter in 22.43 but then turned it up extending to an 8 length advantage with a half mile time of 44.88 and finishing with a 50.93 final clocking. Gold N Glitter is a Washington bred by Harbor the Gold out of Minimums Minimums by Storm Boot and bred by Duane and Susan Hopp. The owners are Chad and Josh.
The Old Guy just misses
12-year-old Doctor Bruce S. made his 75th career start on Saturday in the 8th race and all 75 at Emerald Downs. He came into the race with an 11-18-12 career mark and was coming off a 2nd place finish at 37-1. Javier Matias picked up the ride and he was given more respect this time going off at 7-1. Matias let the Doc break 2nd last and let him find his stride and he began to move on the turn eventually putting his nose in front at the top of the stretch over 17-1 Freiberg. Those two would pair off and battle head and head all down the stretch with Freiburg getting bob at the end to win by a head.
Doctor Bruce S. is trained by Jose Navarro and owned by Big Bill and Company #1. He is now 11-19-12 from 75 starts and top 3 finish percent of 56%. His career earnings a now a smidge short of 100k.
Big Pay Day
Saturday was the best day for pay-offs although all 3 days had many opportunities to take home a good profit. The pay-off of the week was the 50-cent pick 5 on Saturday where 1 person took home the pot correctly picking all 5 winners and collected $33,298.95.
The Pick 5 began in the 4th race and immediately eliminated a large portion of the pool when 9-1 Talking Eyes with Juan Gutierrez overtook 2-5 and odds on choice Discreet Demons inside the 16th pole for the length win. Although the 5th race only had 6 horses and a 3-1 shot won it was not an easy race with 5 of the 6 at odds of 5-2 to 5-1. Julien Couton won it aboard Classic Leah. Halfway through still no favorite as Javier Matias brought home Miss Monique at 5-1 in an 8- horse field. In the 7th race Juan Gutierrez split horses in deep stretch to win by a neck on 6-1 Lolo Paniolo setting up the winner take all race with Eddie Martinez holding off Doctor Bruce S. on Freiberg at 17-1.
That was a heck of a handicapping feat or the winner’s lucky numbers, birthday or anniversary were 3-1-1-6-7.
Racing resumes on Thursday with a 6pm post time, Saturday at 6:30 and Sunday at 2:30 with 2 2-year-old stakes races the Angie C and the King County Express stakes both good for $50,000.