Emerald Downs: Week 11 Champs crowned in the Kent & Irish Day Stakes, the Ladies dominate Saturday and some big pays and more

Paul Beattie


(Auburn, WA) Week 11 was huge with 2 stakes for 3-year-olds the Kent Stakes for fillies and the Irish Day Stakes for all 3-year-olds. It was also the 2nd large promotional day of the year, after the July 3rd Fireworks show but the Corgi races drew an amazing 10,000+ fans to Emerald to see not only the horses but the Corgi and other breeds do battle on the track’s homestretch. See our story on the Corgi’s for more on that event. Let’s get to the rundown!

Kent Stakes

Blazingbellablu wins the Kent Stks

Ms Lynn hd her lone career stakes win in the Seattle Stakes but her rider on that day had a tough decision to make and chose not to ride Ms Lynn in the Kent. Leading rider Alex Cruz instead chose Blazingbellablu and in the end, Cruz made the right decision. Blazingbellablu went off as the 2-1 favorite likely due to her running style and the fact Cruz picked her over Ms Lynn who was Cruz’s 1st ever stakes win at Emerald Downs.

Coastal Run, Zippin Sevenz and Oreo’s Dream all went to the lead in the 6 1/2 furlong run with Blazingbellablu sitting in 4th about 4 lengths off the lead. Turning for home Blazingbellablu got the first jump on the closers Broad Approval with Kevin Radke up and Ms Lynn who Julien Couton was pleased to get aboard but neither could run down Cruz and Blazingbellablu who drew off to a 2 1/2 length win. Broad Approval held 2nd over a fast closing Ms Lynn who took 3rd less than a length behind. Zippin Sevenz held on for 4th by a neck over La Una.

Cruz says it was a tough decision to take off Ms Lynn but she comes from so far back and has to have a quick pace to run at and must have some racing luck to get through. In the Seattle Stakes Cruz kept Ms Lynn on the rail and a huge hole opened up and he zipped on through for the win. Couton ended up well out in the middle of the track and with an inside passage could have easily been 2nd and may have made a race of it for the win. It appears Ms Lynn is crying out for 2 turns.

Sandi Gann

Broad Approval shipped in from Hastings for trainer Sandi Gann, a former rider at Emerald Downs and had shown she likes to be near the front. In this one though jockey Kevin Radke took back to 5th and at the top of the stretch looked like would give Blazingbellablu a run for her money but then flattened out late and did well to hold on to 2nd. She did break from the 1 hole and didn’t get away as quickly as she may have wanted, if she sticks around a different post plus the experience on the track could be a huge difference.


Blazingbellablu ran the 6 1/2 in 1:17.34 and picked up $27,500 for owners Charles Essex and Petra Lewin to push her bankroll to $47,000. Essex is also the trainer. Blazingbellablu is a Washington bred by Grazen out of Bellomesa by Sky Mesa and bred by Essex and Lewin. Blazingbellablu paid $6 on the $2 win.

Blazingbellablu’s connections






Interview with Alex Cruz, Petra Lewin and Charles Essex the connections of Blazingbellablu


Irish Day Stakes

Top Executive returns to pose

The Irish Day Stakes was a well matched field of 9 going 6 1/2 furlongs including Top Executive fresh off winning the Auburn Stakes on June 20th. Top Executive came into the race as a 2 time stakes winner also winning last year’s King County Express Stakes plus he has an allowance win at Golden Gate in April. He is 3-0-0 with 2 4th place finishes from 6 career starts. Kevin Orozco who won on him at Golden Gate and came up to ride him in the Auburn and was back again on Sunday.

Despite a lifetime 50% win percent, Top Executive has never earned the public’s trust. His 1st lifetime win in the Auburn stakes he was 13-1. Then a huge 35-1 in that Northern Cal Allowance win. He was 2-1 in the Auburn Stakes but still was not favored and on Sunday he was let go at 5-1. He’s never been favored in his 7 lifetime starts.

Orozco broke Top Executive just off the two front runners in 3rd place. Dutton, the 2020 Emerald Downs horse of the meet was looking to rebound off a flat effort in his 1st start an allowance race where he finished a fading 4th. Dutton, the 2-1 favorite jumped out to the lead and ran the 1/4 in 21.92. Orozco did not let Dutton shake loose and put his head in front at the 1/2 mile pole and drew off to a 1 1/2 length lead.

Top Executive Connections

3rd favorite Bobby Brinkley was making steady progress and overtook a fast fading Dutton who would finish last. Bobby Brinkley shipping in for trainer Frank Lucarelli from Lonestar in Texas cut the deficit to a half length but when Leslie Mawing asked for more there wasn’t another gear and in fact it was Orozco who got Top Executive to dig down deeper and he pulled away for a 1 1/2 length win. Bobby Brinkley held 2nd while 14-1 outsider Naval Escort with Julien Couton closed well to be 3rd. 2nd favorite Big Endeavor broke 4th and then ran a disappointing even race finishing 6th and was never really in the race. 24-1 Slew’s Tiz Whiz with Jose Zunino got up for 4th.

Top Executive gave his trainer Blaine Wright a great birthday present with his 3rd Stakes win of the year and takes the lead in stakes wins. He ran the 6 1/2 in 1:16.62 and collected $27,500 for his days work pushing his career earnings to more than $97,000 for his owners John and Janene Maryanski and Riverbend Stable.

Top Executive returned $12.80 on the $2 win and a nice $155 for the 50-cent trifecta and $171 for the 10-cent superfecta.





Stretch Run of Irish Day Stakes


Interview with winning jockey Kevin Orozco


The next Barkley?


Hall of Fame Trainer Howard Belvoir knows the ups and downs in this business and has lived through the highest of highs with 3 Longacres Mile winners down to whether or not racing would even be in the state after Longacres closed. Last year Belvoir had to make the tough decision to retire one of the most beloved horses to run in the Northwest, Barkley. Barkley delivered Belvoir his 3rd Mile Trophy but nagging leg injuries left Belvoir no choice but send him to the stud barn. 

Belvoir and the ownership group the Rising Star stable run by his long time companion Vicki Potter owned Barkley and have had many other successful stakes horses recently. But another fan favorite, Wasserman, was Belvoir’s first Mile winner and he was the sole owner, trainer and even bred Wasserman. His 2nd Mile horse was Assessment owned by Tice Ranch Stables. Now comes Decimate and Belvoir is again the sole owner, trainer and also bred Decimate who is by Atta Boy Roy and out of Star Protocol by He’s Tops.

After Sunday’s 5th race you have to wonder if Belvoir has now come full circle when his 2-year-old gelding Decimate did just that to a field of 8. Decimate broke from between horses and for about 50 yards looked like a 3 or 4 way battle would ensue on the front end but instead Belvoir’s regular rider and all-time leading female jockey at Emerald Downs Jennifer Whitaker gave

Decimate Winner’s Circle

Decimate the ok to pull away to a 2 1/2 length lead. Decimate was out on his own and ran the quarter in 22.21. He double the lead to 5 lengths at the top of the stretch and then blistered the field down the stretch winning by 11 1/4 lengths and running the 5 furlongs in 58.37.

We should note over the past week or so the track crew had done work on the track and they normally add material about this time of year and it has slowed the times to 2 to 3 seconds off the season quickest times. Decimate’s time sticks out because it is just 4/5’s of a second off the fastest time at 5 furlongs and he had an 11 length lead so Whitaker had him in hand late. It truly was a dazzling performance and will be interesting to see how he comes out of the race and what is next. The public didn’t know how good this one was and let him go at over 6-1. It will be highly doubtful those will be the odds the next time he breaks from the gate.


Sunday Winner’s list begins with 1st 4-time winner

Bella’s Back wins #4

Bella’s Back got things started on Sunday going wire to wire for jockey Julien Couton at a price of 1-2 and Bella did not disappoint winning for the 4th time this season, the first horse to reach 4 wins in 2021. Bella’s Back is owned by Scott Herbertson and trained by Ari Herbertson. It was a long touchdown completion in the 2nd race with Wilson to Lockett scoring an off the pace win at a mile for trainer Doris Harwood and owner Duane Weber. Eddie Martinez got the riding win. Kevin Radke got another won taking the 3rd aboard Final Rose getting up in the final strides to beat Luckenbach by a nose. Steve Menne, Don DeMulling and Jeff Zielinski own Final Rose and is trained by Menne. This is Menne’s only horse and only has 9 lifetime starts as a trainer with 4 in 2017, 2 in 2018 and 3 this year. Final Rose is just his 3rd horse and now is 2-1-0 from 3 starts.

The 4th race went to K and L Racing’s Orcadian Storm with Juan Gutierrez aboard for trainer Charles Essex. The 5th was Decimate for Howard Belvoir, the 6th went to front running Adens Dream and Julien Couton recorded his 2nd win as did trainer Ari Herbertson for owner Johnny Taboada. The 7th and 8th races were the stakes information above and the finale went to Southern Venture giving Leslie Mawing his 1st win of the season at Emerald Downs. Mawing is the 4th leading rider of all time at Emerald but makes his home in Minnesota and rides at Canterbury until they close and then comes out to Washington. Southern Venture is owned by Dennis Snowden, Dan Minardo and Russ Nakagawa and trained by Frank Lucarelli.

Jockey’s Race heats up

Alex Cruz
Julien Couton

Julien Couton got off to a great start this year and quickly took the lead in the jockey’s standings with 5 wins on opening day. Last year’s Champion Alex Cruz eventually took the lead much do to the incredible consecutive win streak he went on winning at least 1 race during the the first 21 days of the meet, coupled with the last 25 days of 2020 he had run that state record to 46 days. Couton has come back on and now tied Cruz for the top spot each with 42 wins. Couton finished the week with 5 wins along with Juan Gutierrez who is in 3rd place with 39 wins just 3 back of the two leaders. Cruz won 3 times including his 2nd ever stakes win at Emerald Downs. We’ll have more on the jockeys along with the trainers and owner leader boards in our Betting Parlor and Leader Board story later this week.



Saturday Round-up

There were 2 Stakes races on Sunday but regular followers could have been tricked thinking there were also 2 on Saturday. Instead there were 2 strong allowance races with Stakes level horses competing. Let’s begin with the 3rd race a field of 5 with 3 stakes proven runners including 2020’s 3-year-old male of the year and Stakes winner Unmachable, Oh Marvelous Me and Elliott Bay. The 2 others had their own credentials with Hard to Deny an allowance winner and Spittin Image also a multiple allowance winner both Hard to Deny and Spittin Image from trainer Chris Stenslie’s barn who she co-owns both with the One Horse Will Do Corporation.

The field set to go the mile saw Spittin Image go straight to the lead with Alex Cruz up and quickly take a length lead while stablemate Hard to Deny with Juan Gutierrez sat 2nd followed by Oh Marvelous Me and Unmachable off the pace as usual. That pattern held for 3/4 of a mile then Julien Couton asked Oh Marvelous Me and began to move and overtook Hard to Deny for 2nd by a half length while Unmachable began to unwind from the back. Elliott Bay just didn’t have it in this one and dropped to last where he finished.


Top of the stretch it was Hard to Deny who looked like might he be dropping out but Gutierrez was just giving him a breather and unleashed a burst to clear the field by nearly 2 lengths at the 1/8th pole. Unmachable with Javier Matias was clearly the danger and began closing in passing Spittin Image and Oh Marvelous Me but Hard to Deny had flown the coop and the 7-1 2nd longshot held off Unmachable, the 2-5 odds on choice for the win running the mile in a time of 1:37.07. Oh Marvelous Me and Spittin Image would deadheat for 3rd.

Hard to Deny earned $13,600 for the win and now has a career mark of 3-3-1 from 14 starts and has earned more than $53,000. Hard to Deny is Kentucky bred by Hard Spun out of Queen Martha by Rahy and bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbreds. Hard to Deny returned $16.60 on the $2 win.

The 2nd Stakes like allowance race was the feature 7th on the 8 race card with 6 3-year-old and up fillies and mares going a mile. The overwhelming favorite was last year’s top 3-year-old filly and double stakes winner Daffodil Sweet, fresh off winning the 50k Wa State Legislators Stakes here at Emerald a couple weeks ago and was bet down to 3-5. After that it was a dart board with 3 horses at 5-1, one at 6-1 and a 24-1 outsider.

The 5-1 shots were Northern Cal invader for Ari Herbertson Pyscho Sister who hadn’t run since 2018 but was working well for her return and drew Alex Cruz to ride, Squan’s Kingdom who ran 3rd to Daffodil Sweet in the Leg Stakes but beat her running 2nd 2 back in the Hastings Stakes had veteran Javier Matias and Ryan Barber had the mount on Dontkissntell who ran 2nd to Daffodil at 25-1 in the leg Stakes. The 6-1 shot was Gettin Sideways with Julien Couton aboard had been running well at No Cal but in her first out here in the Legislator’s stakes ran a distant 6th. James Wooten would get the ride on the 24-1 outsider Miss Important.

Daffodil Sweet

At the ring of the starter bell it was Pyscho Sister blazing to the lead by 3. Daffodil Sweet sat in 2nd and for the 3rd time in a row she did not have the early lead and after winning the Leg stakes from just off the pace jockey Juan Gutierrez had more tools to work with on Daffodil and settled her nicely in a clear 2nd. Squan’s Kingdom sat closer than usual in this one followed by Dontkissntell, Gettin Sideways and Miss Important trailed.

Psycho Sister held the lead to the 1/2 mile pole and then Gutierrez released the brakes on Daffodil Sweet and she quickly surged past Pyscho Sister to draw away to a 3 1/2 length lead at the top of the stretch. Pyscho Sister was done, Squan’s Kingdom who made a move on the turn but was no match for the winner leveled off and it was Gettin Sideways who closed well to get up for 2nd as Daffodil Sweet rolled to a 2 3/4 length win. Squan’s Kingdom held 3rd and Miss Important got up by a nose over Dontkissntell to complete the superfecta.

Daffodil Sweet ran the mile in 1:37.72 and returned $3.40 on the $2 win. Daffodil Sweet runs for the One Horse Will Do Corporation and Steve Shimizu and is trained by Chris Stenslie. Daffodil Sweet is a California bred by Ministers Wild Cat out of Easy on My Heart by Lion Heart and was bred by Michael Terry.

Daffodil Sweet picked up $13,600 for the win and now has a bank account with more than $105,000. She has 6 career wins from 8 starts, 1 second and 1 off the board.

Ladies Night

Out of the 8 races on Saturday night, 6 were won by women trainers which may be the 2nd best day in Emerald Downs history there was a day in 2010 where the ladies won 7 races. 5 different trainers posed in the Winner’s Circle on Saturday night, Chris Stenslie did twice winning both allowance races. Candi Cryderman opened by winning the 1st with Float On at a nice 6-1.

Jennifer Nunnally won her 1st race of the season with her first start when Alex Anaya won the 2nd race at 9-1 on Wegottodrinkin. Nunnally was also 1 start with 1 win in 2018 with Rojo Bou Peep as her only start and win but she also ran once at Portland Meadows in 2018 and won with Pender Island. She would then run Pender Island 8 times in 2019 twice at Portland and 6 at Emerald and ran Mahogany Magic once at Emerald but did not win in 2019. Her Emerald Downs record is now 2-2-0 from 9 starts and at Portland was 1-1-1 from 3 starts for a combined 3-3-1 from 12 starts for a career 25% win rate and 58% in the money.

Stenslie won the 3rd with Hard to Deny and then Teana Birdwell took the 4th with 7-2 shot Shifty Dancer, her 3rd win of the season. The all women pick 4 returned a huge $4,161. Roddina Barrett got her 1st win of the meet and set a new high mark for the season for a $2 win bet when Jose Zunino guided 27-1 Raphael to the winner’s circle in the 5th and Stenslie won the 7th with Daffodil Sweet.

David Martinez took the 6th with In the Wind and Jorge Rosales won the finale with Aquinas as the only 2 races going to the men on Saturday.

Chris Stenslie
Roddina Barrett
Candi Cryderman







Big Pays

There were a couple of high pay-outs for the meet on Saturday beginning with the 27-1 $2 win pay-out for Raphael in the 5th race of $57.80. Jose Zunino was the rider and knock out his own high mark with 26-1 Reelfoot on June 16th that returned $54.20. Raphael also set a new high for the $2 place, again knocking out Reelfoot’s $28.40 with Raphael’s $31.40 return.

The former 50-cent pick-3 of $789 was topped twice, first with the one that began in the 3rd race where 7-1 Hard to Deny with Juan Gutierrez opened the 3 in a row bet, followed by 9-2 Shifty Dancer with Eddie Martinez and capped with Raphael. The 3-5-6 50-cent bet paid a handsome $1,292. The next sequence paid nearly $1,000 at $991 and began with Shifty Dancer to Raphael and finished with In the Wind at 7-1.

The next sequence that began with Raphael likely would have triggered the new high pay-off had the odds-on choice Daffodil Sweet been upset by anyone but Daffodil was too tough and the Pick 3 still paid a healthy $403. The pick-3’s paid well all night with the 1st sequence good for $622, the 2nd-4th paying $304, only the final 6th-7th-8th that was a 7-1 to 3-5 to 2-1 paid $36. The average pick-3 pay for the day was nearly $610 well above the season average of $85.

Saturday Winner’s List

Float on won the 1st for owner John Parker and trainer Candi Cryderman, Julien Couton was in the saddle. In the 2nd race, Wegottodrinking won by 5 for Alex Anaya and trainer Jennifer Nunnally for owner Carbon River Racing. Chris Stenslie won her first of 2 for the day with Hard to Deny. Juan Gutierrez guided the win for owners the One Horse Will Do Corp and Stenslie. Eddie Martinez got the win at the halfway mark of the card on Shifty Dancer holding on by a neck over fast closing Irish Terrier. Tena Birdwell was the trainer and the owner is Dennis Trenkenschuh. Raphael gave trainer Roddina Barrett her 1st win of the season and she co-owns Raphael with Robert Buston. Jose Zunino rode the winner.  Kevin Radke got the win in the 6th race on In the Wind for owner-trainer David Martinez and is co-owned by Russell Hulk. The One Horse Will Do Corp was back in the winner’s circle in the 7th with co-owner Steve Shimizu and trainer Chris Stenslie for Daffodil’s Sweet big win, regular rider Juan Gutierrez picked up his 2nd win of the card. Julien Couton would bookend the day winning his 2nd race of the night on Aquinas for trainer and co-owner Jorge Rosales and Generoso Tandiama III.

Thursday Re-Cap

The Thursday evening racing began at 6p and leading rider Alex Cruz wasted little time in getting back in the winner’s circle after missing it for the first time in 46 straight racing days on Sunday, a track and state record. Cruz was on the 7-5 favorite Irish Swing and sat just off the early run of Proudtobesicilean with Julian Couton and took over the lead in deep stretch to prevail by a neck. Irish Swing is trained by Rigoberto Velasquez and owned by Rancho Viejo and Lisa Baze. Cruz then won the 6th race aboard Jimjimmyjames, the 2-1 betting choice for trainer Charles Essex and owner Jim Kiser.

Also in that 1st race, 12-year-old Doctor Bruce S made his 76th lifetime start all at Emerald Downs and was coming off a big 2nd place effort losing by a head. The Doc wasn’t on his best game on Thursday and ended up 5th.

Mike Man’s Gold

It was a day for the old dudes as the 2nd oldest runner at the track did not have an off day and added to his track record win total. Mike Man’s Gold, the 11-year-old Washington bred by Liberty Gold out of Chedoodle by Slewdledo was handled perfectly by jockey Kevin Radke. Mike broke in the middle of the 7 horse field sitting in 4th about 4 lengths behind front running Code Charlie with Juan Gutierrez. Pure Pursuit with Cruz pressed the pace from between horses with longshot Dudley Studley on the outside with Joree Scriver up. Rider Edgar Velasco had Fuzzy Dolphin off the pace in this one in 5th followed by Tumac Mountain with Alex Anaya and Crest Drive broke in the air and looked to be done spotting the field about 12 lengths.

As the pack approached the far turn in this 6-furlong sprint, Code Charlie continued to lead with Pure Pursuit while Mike Man’s Gold began to move in the clear on the outside. At the top of the stretch the front runners were all but done as Mike Man’s Gold swept to the lead of 1 1/2 lengths, Code Charlie was clinging to 2nd but was about to be swallowed up by closers Tumac Mountain and Crest Drive making an incredible run after the disastrous beginning.

But Mike Man’s Gold had too much in the tank and drew off to an impressive 5 length win, Tumac Mountain was a clear 2nd with Crest Drive getting up for 3rd while Code Charlie held on for 4th. Mike Man’s Gold stop the timer at 1:12.05 Mike Man’s Gold added another 5k+ to his impressive career bankroll now at more than $375,000 as he recorded his Emerald Downs track record 26th win now 5 in front of retired West Seattle Boy with 21.

Mike Man’s Gold was owned by Greg and Chuck Conley and Tierra Firma Farm and trained by Joe Toye. We say “was” because Mike Man’s Gold was claimed for $6,250 by John Parker and now goes to the Candi Cryderman barn. Mike also had the support of the bettors going off as the 1-1 betting choice.

Other Thursday Notes:

Cruz had 2 wins but so did Juan Gutierrez taking the 2nd on Raiderette for Santos Rosales and trainer Jorge Rosales and the finale aboard Cribbs for trainer Steve Bullock and owners Tom, Becky & Annie Birklid. Heriberto “Eddie” Martinez won the 3rd race on American Budha for George Todaro and trainer Tom Wenzel, Julien Couton took the 4th race on odds on choice Liberty’s Finale in a wire to wire win from the barn of David Martinez and for owners the Swag Stable, Karen Angelos and Ernie Fatta. Alex Anaya has been very steady this season and scored another win in the 5th aboard Seventh Wave at a nice 7-1 as Jorge Rosales picked up his 2nd win on the card for owner Lynn Hebdon.


Through 22 days there have been 92 claims or about 4 per day but 7 horses on Thursday found new homes to push the total to 99 going into Sunday. Fortune in Silk was claimed by Parker and Cryderman from the 2nd race from Scott Herbertson for $2,500, Cryderman would pick up another one in the 5th race when Mike and Maggie Pimentel claimed Smile for Ashley from the Satchell Stevens barn while trainer Jorge Rosales dropped the tag on Officer of War for new owners Teresa Abila, Santos Rosales and Generoso Tandiama Jr from former owner John Coonan and trainer Charles Essex.

In the 6th race the check book was out for Rough Ride as new owner James Carter will send RR to the Roddina Barrett barn leaving the Howard Belvoir stable. And 3 claim tags were clicked on the bridles after the 7th and featured race, again Mike Man’s Gold leaving the Joe Toye barn for Candi Cryderman’s along with Pure Pursuit taken by Nick Lowe and Mark Loebner, Lowe also trains and departs the Vince Gibson stable and Crest Drive goes to the Dan Markle barn for new owners Dennis Townsend, Marko Wollschlaeger and Ken Kendrick leaving the care of trainer Rigoberto Velasquez.

There were a combined 3 claims on Saturday and Sunday so Thursday indeed was a busy shopping day.


It was a very chalky night with 5 betting favorites winning and the other 3 placing 2nd. Only one pay-off over $100 in the first 7 races, the 2nd of 3 pick 4’s returning $115. Then in the final race the 50-cent Super Hi-5 was good for $2,746 while the pick 5 returned $722, the 3rd pick 4 was $253 and the 20-cent pick 6 jackpot paid $243.


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