Sorry this is about 2 weeks later than I wanted but at Eli Sports we broadcast High School sports live and this season has been crazy with all the changes in schedules for various reasons, so again I apologize for being a little late but here we go!
Frank Lucarelli, the defending trainer champion, a 7-time champion and winningest trainer in Emerald history was the odds on choice to defend his title and add #8 to his trophy case. But instead long time trainer Joe Toye with a smaller barn started fast and maintained his lead from start to finish.
Lucarelli started 161 horses and Toye 123, Toye finished with 29 wins and Lucarelli 26. The big difference was two things, Toye got off to a fast start and it took Lucarelli a little bit to get his stock up to speed which is not unusual. But Lucarelli finished with 28 2nds and 22 shows while Toye had just 15 2nds but also 22 3rd place finishes. Toye got the benefit of getting a few more wins when in tight races a fewer 2nds. Not a lot had to happen for Lucarelli to find 3 or 4 more wins in all those 2nd place finishes for a different outcome.
What Toye did was to start fast and maintained that consistency. Through the first 6 days of the meet Toye led Lucarelli 7-1, he never had that big let down of multiple weeks without a win. Toye used that fast start and kept all competitors at an arms length for the run of the season from May to the end of September.
Toye’s most notable runner is the one with the most wins at Emerald Downs, Mike Man’s Gold with 26 career victories. Mike Man’s Gold was claimed from Toye and owners Chuck and Greg Conley and Terra Firma Farms by John Parker going to trainer Candi Cryderman but Mike was gone from the Toye barn for just 1 start as the Conley’s and Terra Firma Farm claimed him right back in his next race and was back home in the Toye barn at the end of the season. The 11-year-old finished his year with a 4th place finish on the final Saturday night of racing. Toye also had Judicial in his barn, (our vote for claimer of the meet), who posted 4 wins was 1 of 6 horses to win four races this season.
Our Interview with Joe Toye
Lucarelli’s top horse this season is no doubt 2 time Stakes winner Cobra Jet who ended up winning 3 races on the year. More on Cobra Jet below in the leading Stakes trainers below. Lucarelli had one other triple winner, Whidbey Prince had his picture taken 3 times and Anatolia was the 3rd multiple winner for the Lucarelli barn with 2 wins. Lucarelli’s crew had 21 different horses win during the 2021 meet. Lucarelli would finish #1 in what certainly owners are most interested and that’s earnings. His barn collected $427,413 in purse earnings and was #1 in that category.
Jorge Rosales had a spectacular run in 2020 and finished 2nd to Lucarelli with 27 wins. 2021 looked like it would be far different with horses at Grants Pass and in California it wasn’t clear how committed Rosales would be to have a large number of runners at Emerald but as the season wore on, Rosales heated up. He didn’t get his 1st win until the 7th day of racing on June 9th. He began to pick up a little in June and July but going into July 29th he had only 7 wins through 25 days of racing or more than half the days of the meet. Over the final 24 days he would explode and it began with his 1st double winner of the meet. Mechoir won on June 30th and won his 2nd race on July 29th. That was the 1st of 16 wins from July 29th to September 26. Rosales did not get a Stakes win this year but his biggest win was Take Charge Deputy winning a 20k allowance. Take Charge Deputy, Melchior and Don’t Rub It In were all 2-time winners for Rosales in 2021.
Candi Cryderman was the top female trainer of the meet finishing 4th in the standings with 20 wins and 5th in earnings. Cryderman had a run in with the 2nditis bug as well with 24 places and 19 shows. Cryderman did tie with Jeff Metz for top percent finishing in the top 3 out of the 12 trainers with a minimum of 70 starts with a 57% in the money percent. Metz would finish 5th in the standings, 1 win behind Cryderman with 19. Cryderman’s best Stakes finish was with Squan’s Kingdom at 14-1 taking 2nd in the Hastings Stakes. Cryderman’s efforts got her the 4th place finish in the trainer standings but it got her #1 owner John Parker the Owners Championship, more on Parker below in the owners standings. Cryderman had an amazing 5 wins and 10 2nds over the first 5 days of the meet. She had 18 different horses win for her with only 2 winning twice Queen Breezy and Rita Lorraine.
Metz also started slow like Rosales and has active barns at several tracks. But the season really paid off for the Metz barn on the final day of racing when Coastal Kid won a Stakes race. Metz got multiple wins from Grey Point, Atta Boy Billy and Master Recovery.
Kay Cooper had an amazing season as the 6th overall finisher but 1st in Stakes wins with 5 and 2nd in overall earnings. She also would heat up in the final half of the meet winning just 5 of her 18 wins through the first 26 days of the meet and then taking 13 1st place checks in the final 23 days including all 5 Stakes wins. Her lone non-stakes winning horse with 2 or more wins was Nationheart with 2 victories.
Other trainers of note for 2021 that are not Stakes winners include those who finished with at least a 20% win rate. Topping that list was Tim McCanna at 36% winning 14 races from 39 starts and had an impressive 64% in the money finish. Ari Herbertson finished tied for 8th in the standings with 16 wins from just 46 starts winning at 35% and an even better 70% in the money. Rigoberto Velasquez was a 25% winner finishing 7th overall with 17 wins. Doris Harwood had 9 wins for a 23% win rate from 40 starters and was tied for 16th, Bonnie Jenne won at the 20% mark with 7 winners from 25 starts, Greg Moore hit 25% and 60% in the money from his 20 starters and Sam Dronen found the winner’s circle 4 times from 19 starts or a 21% win rate.
Other notables included longtime and Hall of Famer Howard Belvoir who finished tied for 8th with 16 wins and it was a bit frustrating not getting more wins as he was #1 in 3rd place finishes with 26. Just one of those years where many of the veterans found themselves getting close but just unable to string more wins together. Long time conditioner but 1st year at Emerald Downs Robert Bean closed strongly finishing with an 8-9-11 record from 81 starts and having his barn at Emerald was a huge boost to the horse population making many races go. He almost pulled off a stunning upset on closing day when his 17-1 Brilliant Bird lost the Washington Cup for Fillies and Mares by just a half length to the heavily favored Bayakoa’s Image.
There are many other trainers who had solid years and are much smaller barns but remain the heartbeat of the backside and racing industry. Hats off to all who brought home winners this year during the 2021 season.
Top 25 Trainer Standings by wins
|Trainer Standings by wins||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Win %||Top 3 %||Earnings||Earnings rank|
There were 18 Stakes races this season and the Champion Trainer was Kay Cooper winning 5, including winning 2 Stakes races on August 22nd the Lads with A View From Above and the Barbara Shinpoch with Koron. She added a 3rd stakes in a row winning the Oaks with Bayakoa’s Image. Her final two wins were repeat winners with Koron winning the Juvenile Filly Stakes and Bayakoa’s Image holding off Brilliant Bird in the Washington Cup for fillies and mares. This run by Cooper was part of her late season surge and pushed her to #6 in the final win standings and #2 in earnings. Bayakoa’s Image was named the top 3-year-old filly and Koron earned Juvenile filly honors.
The 2nd leading stakes trainer was Blaine Wright and although he may have had fewer horses at Emerald Downs this season he certainly was again strong in the stakes races. This year Wright relied on one particular competitor Top Executive who won 3 stakes. Top Exec won the Auburn Stakes, Irish Day and the Muckleshoot Derby. That perfect record also earned Top Executive Horse of the Meeting honors. Wright also scored a stakes win in the Angie C with Slack Tide.
The other 2 trainers with multiple stakes wins did so with one horse. Vince Gibson won the Budweiser Stakes with Papa’s Golden Boy who came back a few weeks later to win the Governors. Papa also ran in the Longacres Mile where he ran a gutsy 4th.
Frank Lucarelli’s Cobra Jet brought him and the owners to the Winner’s Circle twice as well. Cobra Jet cruised to the win in the King County Express and then won the Washington Cup Juvenile. Cobra Jet was also named top 2-year-old male.
The other trainers who won a Stakes race included Dan Markle who won the Hastings with Ima Happy Cat, Roy Lumm won the Seattle Stakes with Ms Lynn, Chris Stenslie won the Legislators Stake with Daffodil Sweet, Charles Essex took the Kent Stakes with Blazingbellablu, Sandi Gann won the Distaff on Mile day with Princess of Cairo, Jeff Metz won the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic with Coastal Kid and Tom Wenzel won the 2nd largest purse of the season with the Gottstein as Midnight Mojo pulled an 8-1 upset.
That leaves the winning trainer of the Longacres Mile, Mike Puhich with Background. Background races for Bob and Molly Rondeau, Bob of course many know as the legendary voice of Husky football for more than 3 decades. The way the race unfolded getting up in the final strides to beat Windribbon by a nose with former Emerald jockey champion Rocco Bowen. This performance in the 86th running of the Mile was also named the Race of the Meeting.
Final Stakes Trainer Standings
1 Kay Cooper 5
2 Blaine Wright 4
3 Frank Lucarelli 2
3 Vince Gibson 2
Trainers with 1 Stakes win include Dan Markle, Roy Lumm, Chris Stenslie, Charles Essex, Sandi Gann, Mike Puhich, Jeff Metz and Tom Wenzel
We will miss you!!
Two longtime trainers said good-bye to the racing industry with the close of the 2021 season at Emerald Downs. Chris Stenslie has been a mainstay on the backside of Emerald Downs since the early days of Emerald Downs. Stenslie had 5 horses who earned more than 100K lifetime led by No Talking Back who won 3 Stakes and an overnight Stake. O B Harbor in 2016 swept the Longacres Mile prep races , the Governors, Bud and Mt Rainier and went off as the favorite in the Longacres Mile but the frontrunner could not hold the lead and settled for 3rd. O B Harbor retired with a bank account of more than $163,000.
Her other 100K earners were Hollywood Harbor, Perhaps a Pie and current superstar Daffodil Sweet. Daffodil Sweet is owned by one of Stenslie’s longtime owners the One Horse Will Do Corp along with Steve Shimizu. Daffodil is a 2 time Stakes Winner taking the Coca Cola in 2020 and the Legislator’s Stakes this past season. Daffodil Sweet won an allowance race on September 12th which also was fittingly Stenslie’s final win.
Stenslie retires with a career 1,757 starts, 283 wins, 292 2nds and 283 shows for a 16% win clip an in the money percent of 49%. Stenslie retires with career earnings of $3,604,150.
The other retirement is really a half retirement in Sharon Ross. She and her husband Larry for 40 years have sent nearly 10,000 starters to the gates, 9,995 to be exact but Larry retired a couple of years ago and Sharon continued on training on her own. Of the 9,995 starts Sharon had 2,787 under her direct watch.
Sharon would retire with an individual record of 449 wins, 408 places and 395 shows for a 16% win rate and in the money 45% of the time. Combined with her husband Larry they had 1,508 wins or a 15% win percent, 1,501 2nds and 1,351 3rds for an in the money rate of 44%. Combined the Ross’s earned $21,411,871.
The Ross’s had 5 graded stakes winners, 6 horses that earned more than $335,000. Ema Bovery was their high earner collecting 720K winning the Legislative Stakes and Hastings Stakes at Emerald Downs and was a graded stakes winner. The Ross’s also sent out 2 time Longarcres Mile Champion and crowd favorite Stryker PHD in 2014 and 2015 at Emerald Downs and got their first Mile win in 1985 with Chum Salmon at Longacres.
Then there was their 2nd highest earner and another crowd favorite and one of the few horses to have won at Longacres, Yakima Meadows, Playfair and Emerald Downs. Military Hawk wrapped up his career at Emerald Downs on August 17, 1997 with his 18th career win and finishing with more than $686,000 in the bank. He won by a head with legendary jockey Gary Stevens aboard.
Sharon Ross’s final win came on September 4 with Hygh IQ. In a little twist the 2nd place horse was trained by Stenslie. We had a chance to catch up with Sharon Ross on her final day. Despite clearly being an emotional time, Sharon said 40 years was long enough and time to head for the farm.
Our Interview with Sharon Ross
2015 Longacres Mile
Only 2 owners reached double digits and once again John Parker reigns as the top owner in wins and earnings. Parker sent 95 horses to the gates this season and found the Winner’s Circle 19 times winning at a 20% clip and adding 20 places and 19 3rds Parker could have easily hit 25+ wins with a little more racing luck. Parker did not get a Stakes win this year that makes him leading owner in earnings even more impressive. Parker’s Squan’s Kingdom did run 2nd in the Hastings and 3rd in the Legislators Stakes as his best Stake finishes.
Parker has grown his stable to include an east coast barn as well where he runs at Parx, Penn and Delaware. His biggest earner so far and by a long ways is Gold Rush Dancer and Parker won the Longacres Mile in 2017 with Gold Rush Dancer. G-R-D has earned more than half-a-million dollars for Parker. We had a chance to talk with Parker reflecting on 2021 on closing day.
Our Interview with Champion Owner John Parker
Greg and Chuck Conley teamed up with Terra Firma Farm in 2021 to nearly knock off the 4 time Champion John Parker as they recorded 15 wins from 40 starts for a 38% win rate. The Conley and T-F-F’s highest profile horse is Mike Man’s Gold the all time win leader at Emerald Downs with 26 career victories. At one point in the season Parker actually claimed Mike from his long time owners but only got to keep him for 1 race as the Conley’s and Terra Firma Farm claimed him back in the next race.
This ownership group rode the wave of leading trainer Joe Toye who handles their stock with a huge season. The Conley’s and T-F-F started this season winning their 1st 4 races of the season. They would have just 7 different winners and 5 of them were multiple winners led by Judicial with 4 wins, my vote for claimer of the meet. Mike Man’s Gold added 3 more wins to his impressive career total while Zatter, Buckley Bay and Count Alexi all won twice. Red Noon Rising and Omache Kid also won to round out their 15 winners.
Bean Acres tied with Scott Herbertson for 3rd with 8 wins each. Bean Acres part of the owner/trainer combination of Robert Bean and his farm. Scott Herbertson also had a 4 race win streak early in the season after finishing 2nd with Iron Rob on opening day he would send out Bella’s Back who won on day 2 and followed that up with wins by Burn Me Twice, Bella’s Back a 2nd time and Iron Rob improved off his opening day 2nd place finish.
Ties for 5th were the ownership group of Saratoga West and Hall of Fame trainer and owner Howard Belvoir each with 7 wins. Saratoga West with their longtime conditioner Jeff Metz racked up 3 wins with Master Recovery. Howard Belvoir is well known for training for several high profile clients from way back in the 60’s to the current Rising Star Stables. But Belvoir has a few of his own and introduced everyone to Decimate this season who decimated his competition in his maiden win. He would run in the Lads but ran flat and Belvoir known for his conservative approach quickly put him on the shelf for the winter. He had only one entry win more than once and it was the old pro The Press who got 2 victories in 2021.
There was a 3-way tie for 7th with Gary, Deborah, Jeff and Peyton Lusk leading the way as owners of fan favorite Papa’s Golden Boy. Papa won 3 times this season with an allowance win and then 2 straight stakes the Budweiser and Governor’s Stakes and then ran his heart out in the Longacres Mile and ended up 4th.
The One Horse Will Do Corp and Chris Stenslie did great with 6 wins but this did not include the 3 wins from Daffodil Sweet who is co-owned with Steve Shimizu. One-Horse and Stenslie won half of their 6 wins with Spittin Image and Hard to Deny won twice. If you count the 3 wins with Daffodil Sweet The One Horse Will Do Corp would have been the 3rd leading owner with 9 wins.
Johnny Taboda was the other owner with 6 wins. Taboada shipped his stock in with trainer Ari Herbertson and it was Aden’s Dream who led the way. Aden’s Dream won 3 of 4 starts and finished 3rd in the 4th start.
|Owner Standings by Wins minimum 4 wins||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Win %||Top 3 %||Earnings||Earnings rank|
|2||Greg, Chuck Conley & Terra Firma Farm||40||15||3||5||38%||57%||$113,577||2|
|7||One Horse Will Do Corp & Chris Stenslie||28||6||6||4||21%||57%||$112,018||3|
|7||Gary, Deborah, Jeff & Peyton Lusk||23||6||2||0||26%||35%||$95,394||6|
|10||Rosales Racing F1||18||5||4||3||28%||67%||$55,336||20|
|10||CT Brawlers Stable||23||5||6||2||22%||57%||$49,324||24|
|12||Oak Crest Farms||25||4||8||2||16%||56%||$86,573||8|
|12||One Horse Will Do Corp & Steve Shimizu||6||4||0||0||67%||67%||$68,681||13|
|12||Code Four Stable||11||4||1||2||36%||64%||$47,040||25|
|12||Clemans View Racing||31||4||4||5||13%||42%||$46,011||26|
|12||William A Jensen||13||4||1||2||31%||54%||$39,425||30|
|12||R. E. V. Racing||9||4||1||1||44%||67%||$35,418||34|
|12||Horseplayers Racing Club||9||4||2||2||44%||89%||$32,694||36|
|12||Fred & Cindy Desimone||8||4||0||1||50%||63%||$27,364||38|
Owners Stakes Winners
John and Janene Maryanski and Riverbend Stable owners of Top Executive led the owners Stakes wins with 3 taking the Auburn, Irish Day and Muckleshoot Derby. There were 4 ownership groups who tied for 2nd with 2 wins each and they included the owners of Papa’s Golden Boy Gary, Debbie, Jeff and Peyton Lusk who won the Budweiser Stakes and the Governor’s Stakes. REV Racing, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Lucarelli Racing’s Cobra Jet won the King County Express and Washington Cup Juvenile for Colts and Geldings. Nite and Day Stable and Joanne Todd’s Bayakoa’s Image won the Oaks and the Washington Cup for fillies and mares. And the Blue Ribbon Racing Ladies won the Barbara Shinpoch and Washington Cup Juvenile Filly Stakes with Koron.
Owners with 1 Stakes win included Tim and Sue Spooner with Ima Happy Cat in the Hastings, Ron Bohlman’s Ms Lynn in the Seattle Stakes, One Horse Will Do Corporation and Steve Shimizu’s Daffodil Sweet in the Legislators Stakes, Ten Broeck Farm won the Angie C Stakes with Slack Tide, Blazingbellablu won the Kent Stakes for Charles Essex and Petra Lewin, Princess of Cairo took the Emerald Distaff for Dr Mark Dedomenico and the North American Thoroughbred Corporation, in the Lads Stakes A View From Above won it for Grasshopper Racing and Doug Stenberg, Steve and Letha Haahr won the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on closing day with Coastal Kid and George Todaro won the final Stakes of the season the Gottstein with Midnight Mojo.
We will wrap it up with the biggest race of the season the Longacres Mile. Background won the race for the Giddyup Stable who are Bob and Molly Rondeau. Bob is best known for being the voice of Husky Football and Basketball for decades. He and his wife have owned horses in the past but had taken a break and after his retirement was ready to get back into the racing game. He and trainer Mike Puhich went looking for stock and found Background on a breeders farm in Florida. He had raced mostly at Oaklawn in Arkansas and just prior to coming out for the Mile was at Arlington near Chicago.
Rondeau had his eye on the Mile from the start and he and Puhich shipped him out to Washington and asked his regular rider, who happened to be a 3 time jockey champion at Emerald Downs, Rocco Bowen to come back and ride him in the Mile. Bowen jumped at the opportunity and the Longacres Mile is generally voted the race of the year, although I disagree with that many times, this year there was no question it was the race of the meet and may be one of the all-time greatest races in the history of Emerald Downs.
Background was well back and it looked like Windribbon was going to pull away in the stretch for the win when Background kicked it into gear and ran down Windribbon at the wire to win by a head. The win was extra emotional as it was a race Bowen never won during his time at Emerald Downs and it was the Rondeau’s dream come true as well. Mike Puhich the trainer had won the Mile prior but this one was special due to the close friendship with the Rondeau’s.
2021 welcomed a return to live racing for not only the owners, trainers and jockeys but the fans and you couldn’t have asked for a better return with all the great storylines and the excitement of the longest running professional sport in State history. What a year it was and we can not wait for 2022!
The 2021 Longacres Mile
2021 Wash Legislators Stakes
84th Muckleshoot Derby
2021 Budweiser Stakes
An amazing run in the 2021 Seattle Stakes for Ms Lynn
Wa Cup Juvenile Fillies Koron
2021 81st running of the Gottstein