(Auburn, Wa) Longacres Mile day was a double feature of Stakes races and the Emerald Distaff for the ladies got things started in the 6th race. A field of 8 well matched opponents were set to compete for the $50,000 purse at a mile and 1/16th. The race featured several stakes winners from the 3-2 favorite Daffodil Sweet to the 3-1 Princess of Cairo to 8-1 Killarney Lass even 27-1 Ms Lynn. The other 4 had strong upper class and allowance wins as well but the public believed Daffodil Sweet would turn the tables on Princess of Cairo who snapped her career undefeated streak in the 2020 Washington Oaks.
In the Oaks Princess of Cairo sat off the pace in 4th and rolled on by everyone including pace setter Daffodil Sweet to post a nearly 3-length win. This year after a terrible start in the Hastings Stakes where Daffodil Sweet broke last and did not like getting dirt kicked in her face the experience did help teach her to slow down a little bit especially at the beginning of the race. She came back in the Washington Legislators Stakes to win after sitting off the pace in 2nd, it was the first time she won without going wire-to-wire. She did it again in an allowance race at the mile distance.
She would have to do it again in this race as longshot Galileta with Kevin Orozco up went straight to the lead. Daffodil’s regular rider Juan Gutierrez took hold of her and allowed Galileta to set the fractions as she opened up 2 1/2 lengths heading into the 1st turn. Early on Princess of Cairo with Mario Gutierrez aboard was also waiting patiently allowing the Princess to settle into stride. Down the backstretch Galileta and Orozco kept the pressure on the rest of the field with a 2 length lead and setting mild fractions of 24.09 for the quarter and 48.08 for the half.
As she did that, not much was happening behind her with Daffodil Sweet staying in contact, Killarney Lass with Eddie Martinez riding getting into the mix just a head in front of Princess of Cairo while Compelling Smile sat in 5th followed by closers Squan’s Kingdom, Ms Lynn and Gettin Sideways. As they reached the top of the stretch Galileta was giving up some of her lead and she was out by just a half length but Daffodil Sweet looked like she was struggling and indeed she was and began to fade while Mario Gutierrez pressed go on Princess of Cairo and she responded moving into 2nd place. Rocco Bowen was aboard Compelling Smile and was beginning to fire as well just 3 lengths behind.
This was all Princess of Cairo’s race in the end as she burst past the early leader Galileta and roared down the stretch to a 4 length win. The race was on 2nd as Galileta was holding on well and did not throw in the towel but could not resist Compelling Smile who took 2nd by a half length. Gettin Sideways with Julien Couton would close well to be 4th and Killarney Lass ran an even 5th. Daffodil Sweet ended up 6th followed by Squan’s Kingdom and Ms Lynn.
Princess of Cairo races for Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Horse Company. Last year in the Oaks, Princess of Cairo wore the Pink silks of Dedomenico, this year the red and white checked silks of the NATHC were adorned by Gutierrez. Princess of Cairo is a Kentucky bred by Cairo Prince out of Lovely Cool by Indian Charlie and was bred by Bret Jones. Former Emerald Downs jockey Sandi Gann was the winning trainer and Princess of Cairo earned $27,500 to push here career earnings to nearly $88,000. She is now 4-1-5 from 13 starts and 2-0-0 from 2 starts at Emerald Downs with the Oaks and now Distaff trophies on her resume.
Compelling Smile is also owned by Mark Dedomenico in partnership with Giddyup Stable, Bob and Molly Rondeau. The 10k she earned pushed her career bankroll over the 100k mark to $108,012. Princess of Cairo returned $8.00 and combined with Compelling Smile for a $15 exacta but 27-1 Galileta boosted the 50-cent trifecta to $119 and with 9-1 Gettin Sideways the 10-cent superfecta rewarded backers for the dime bet of $140.29.
We captured Joe Withee’s Winner’s Circle interview with the Princess of Cairo’s connections and also talked with winning jockey Mario Gutierrez. Those interviews below followed by our “Larry the SportsCat’s Round-up” of news and notes from Mile Day.
Joe Withee’s Winner’s Circle interviews
ESN talks with winning jockey Mario Gutierrez
Larry the SportsCat’s Round-Up
There is a local pride of taking on the invaders but this year the win goes to the invaders. Although there are local connections to some of the invaders it truly was a ship-in victory dance in 2021. Let’s begin with the Emerald Distaff. The North American Thoroughbred Company is Canadian based and Princess of Cairo has run most of her races at Hastings Park. Sandi Gann used to ride at Emerald Downs but she is based in Arizona. Co-Owner Dr. Mark Dedomenico is a longtime NW horse owner with long histories at both Longacres and Emerald Downs but again Princess of Cairo is not local based.
Compelling Smile ran 2nd with Dedomenico as part owner with the Giddyup Stable of Bob and Molly Rondeau and Mike Puhich is a long time NW trainer and jockey Rocco Bowen is the only jockey to win 3 straight riding titles at Emerald Downs but he has been gone for 3 or so years and Compelling Smile had run once breaking her maiden in Auburn in June of 2019 and hasn’t been back since. Galileta finished 3rd and made her Emerald Downs debut on July 31, her other 6 starts were in Northern California. Jockey Kevin Orozco also a familiar face to Emerald Downs fans but has also based himself at Golden Gate for the past few years.
Now in the Mile it was Background of course making his 1st appearance in the Northwest and owned by Bob and Molly Rondeau, trained by Puhich and ridden by Bowen, plenty of local connections but clearly an invader since the horse himself had never been here prior to the race. 2nd place Windribbon is the one horse who had been running here and trainer Blaine Wright is certainly local as our leading Stakes trainer but owner Seamist racing is based in Northern California and Kevin Orozco was the rider. The North American Thoroughbred Horse Company finished off the Mile trifecta with Five Star General with Mario Gutierrez riding and trained by Sandi Gann.
The owners did very well in this 2 race showdown as well starting with the Giddyup Stable of Bob and Molly Rondeau winning the Mile and running 2nd in the Distaff they collected $65,000 for the day while The North American Thoroughbred Company racked up $39,500 by winning the Distaff and 3rd place in the Mile and Mark Dedomenico took 1st and 2nd in the Distaff for $37,500 for the day. Trainer Mike Puhich and jockey Rocco Bowen matched the Giddy-up Stables take as did trainer Sandi Gann and jockey Mario Gutierrez did with the NATHC. Jockey Kevin Orozco cleaned up with a 2nd in the mile for $20,000 and 3rd in the Distaff for 6k for a $26,000 day in the 2 Stakes races.
Rocco Bowen rode several other mounts and picked up 2 additional winners and finished the day with $78,877 in purse money. Mario Gutierrez rode one other race and finished 2nd completing the day with $40,908 in purse earnings and Kevin Orozco rode several other races including a pick-up mount in the final race for Bowen who was still focused on his Mile win. Orozco finished the day with $32,567 in purses.
The 3 jockeys also combined for each winning trifecta in both the Distaff and Mile. In the Distaff the 50-cent trifecta paid $119.60 and in the Mile $102.35. If you keyed them in the 10-cent superfectas you also did well with the dime bet returning $140.29 in the Distaff and $86.67 in the Mile. You can thank Orozco for the pay-offs as his 3rd place finish in the Distaff was on 27-1 Galileta and his 2nd place finish in the Mile on 12-1 Windribbon.
Late money on Windribbon saw his odds collapse with just a few minutes before the start of the race. Windribbon was sitting at a very large 36-1 when his odds plummeted to 12-1, still a good pay-off at 12-1 but with a w-p-s combined pool of more than 321k it was a huge bet or bets at one time to see odds change that much so late, whoever had that late hunch nearly walked away with a wheelbarrow full of cash.
Other Notes from Sunday:
No update yet on the condition of Alex Anaya who was aboard Reno Roy and was running out after the race and was coming up behind the winner My Grandpa with Rocco Bowen aboard. As Bowen began to pull up My Grandpa he veered a little out right in front of Reno Roy who quickly veered to his right to avoid running into My Grandpa. This must have taken Anaya by surprise and he lost his balance and hit the track. Anaya was just coming back after being out a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury and may have re-aggravated the injury. Both horse were fine and Anaya was off for the rest of his rides. When we get an update on his condition we will pass it on.
Leading rider Alex Cruz doubled on Sunday taking the 2nd and 3rd on Urban Diva for trainer Jeff Metz picking up his 3rd win of the week. Cruz then won on Mean Sharon for trainer Vince Gibson and the Lusk’s ownership group that also owns Papa’s Golden Boy.
Trainer Kay Cooper remained red-hot saddling her 6th winner since July 31st with Suddenly Winning in the 4th race, Rocco Bowen’s 1st of 3 wins on the day. Bowen also won the 7th on My Grandpa for trainer Dan Markle. Defending Trainer Champion Frank Lucarelli picked up a pair of wins on Sunday taking the 1st with Whiskey Not Wine in a front running win by Eddie Martinez and the 9th race with another front running win from Ardenlee Star with Kevin Orozco in the irons.
2nd leading rider Julien Couton won the 3rd on Stay in Grace by a whisker over Please Me for trainer Rigoberto Velasquez and Jose Zunino won the week’s get-away race on Adjudged for trainer Jose Navarro.
One other note, 12-year-old Doctor Bruce S. made his 78th lifetime start all at Emerald Downs for his only owner and trainer he has ever known, Big Bill and Company #1 and trainer Jose Navarro. Jose Zunino picked up the ride after Alex Anaya was injured earlier. Doctor Bruce S. coming off 2 even 5th place finishes showed again he is not ready to retire and ran a big race in the 9th losing by 3 lengths to odds-on choice Ardenlee Star but a clear 2nd by 5 lengths. The public was thinking maybe retirement is coming sooner than later and let him off at 27-1 and returned $12 on the $2 place. Doctor Bruce S. is now 11-20-12 with a 14% career win percent and in the money 59% of the time and pushed his career earnings to $101,605.