E Z KITTY AND EXCLUSIVE DIVA IN REMATCH,
$50,000 HASTINGS ’CAP KICKS OFF 2013 STAKES
The 2013 stakes program begins Sunday as eight older fillies and mares meet in the 18th running of the $50,000 Hastings Handicap at six furlongs. The Hastings is the first of 29 stakes worth $1,545,000 to be run in 2013, and first stop for fillies and mares on the road to the championship Emerald Distaff in August.
The Hastings came up tough, with no less than six stakes winners in the lineup, but players likely are going to see the race as a rematch of the April 21 allowance race in which Exclusive Diva defeated E Z Kitty by a neck in 1:01.56 for 5 ½ furlongs. Neither horse gave an inch in that tussle as they raced within a length of each other from start to finish, and runner-up E Z Kitty finished more than eight lengths ahead of third-place finisher You Me and Ema B.
Trainer Jeff Metz, who conditions the recently purchased E Z Kitty for owners Bruce and Cass Maller of Scottsdale, Ariz., said he expects the 5-year-old to improve off her last effort. Winner of five stakes in a 17-race career, E Z Kitty is high-weighted at 121 lbs for the Hastings, which goes as Race 9 Sunday at 6:09 p.m. Exclusive Diva was assigned 120 lbs and Champagneandcaviar, last year’s Top 3-Year-Old Filly, carries 119 lbs in her 2013 debut.
“We’ll be a lot fitter this go around,” Metz said of E Z Kitty. “We hope to turn the tables on Exclusive Diva.”
Metz, second with eight wins in the trainer’s standings, said the Mallers plan to fly up to Emerald Downs to watch the race.
“Sunday will be the first time they get to see their silks on E Z Kitty,” Metz said. “I’m excited for my first Emerald Downs stakes race. We bought this filly for the stakes program, and we’re excited to watch her compete throughout the stakes calendar.”
E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva could lock horns from the start, as they have drawn the seven and eight post-positions and appear to have the fastest early speed.
An opening speed duel would likely benefit Champagneandcaviar, the stretch-running half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Winning Machine. Champagneandcaviar nosed out Exclusive Diva for 3-year-old filly honors after narrow route victories in both the Kent Handicap and Washington Oaks. Exclusive Diva captured both sprint stakes for 3-year-old fillies last year with easy scores in the Seattle Handicap and Irish Day Handicap.
New shooters Gosailgo and Plus One make their first Emerald Downs’ appearances Sunday. The former comes off an allowance triumph at Turf Paradise for trainer Robert Anderson, and the latter makes her first start for 10-time local training champ Tim McCanna.
The field from the rail out for Sunday’s $50,000 Hastings Handicap: Maggie’s Special, Eliska Kubinova, 115 lbs; Champagneandcaviar, Javier Matias, 117; Gosailgo, Debbie Hoonan, 117; Royal Moses, Rocco Bowen, 116; Plus One, David Lopez, 118; Smokin’ Grey, Isaias Enriquez, 117; E Z Kitty, Anne Sanguinetti, 121; Exclusive Diva, Juan Gutierrez, 120.
JOCKEY NATHAN CHAVES BEGINS COMEBACK
One of the most successful jockeys in Emerald Downs’ history resumes riding Friday when Nathan Chaves climbs aboard He’s All Heart in the $13,750 feature race for older Washington-breds at six furlongs. It will be Chaves’ first ride at Emerald Downs since 2007 and his first anywhere since the 2007-08 Portland Meadows meeting.
A 37-year-old native of Sumner, Chaves ranks 11th all-time in wins (399) and stakes wins (15) at Emerald Downs, and from 1999-2004 he posted five top-10 finishes in the jockeys’ standings. Chaves is best known for his association with the Jim Penney-trained Sabertooth, guiding the Washington-bred gelding to eight victories including a 17-to-1 victory in the 2002 Longacres Mile (G3) and a world-record of 1:13 for 6 ½ furlongs in the 2005 Fox Sports Net Handicap.
Chaves said he currently tacks 119 lbs, and added some horsemen might take a wait-and-see approach before naming him on runners.
“Everyone will want to see how I look on a horse,” Chaves said. “I’m feeling real good, I’m excited to get back into it.”
Chaves arrived back in town Tuesday, and said he’s spent the last few years as an exercise rider, first with Win Star Farm in Kentucky and most recently with trainer Christophe Clement in Florida.
GALLYN MITCHELL REVISITS HOSPITAL TUESDAY
After experiencing chest pains, Gallyn Mitchell revisited MultiCare Auburn Medical Center on Tuesday, but was back at Emerald Downs visiting with friends Thursday morning.
According to wife and agent Denise Mitchell, her husband was scheduled to meet with doctors again Thursday and determine the next step for Emerald Downs’ all-time leading rider.
“We went to the hospital because of the chest pains, but the doctor said there wasn’t any damage,” Denise Mitchell said. “It was just like Gallyn, when the doctors let him out and I went to pick him up, he was wandering all over the parking lot. I just can’t keep him down.”
Mitchell suffered a heart attack on April 22 at his home near Enumclaw, and subsequently had an emergency procedure to implant three stents to open up his blocked arteries.
Denise Mitchell said Thursday’s appointment will likely determine if Gallyn will have a fourth stent put in.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Mary Pirone (two-for-three this season); Jockey-Javier Matias (11-5-0-1);Owner-Pegasus Syndicate #4 ($21,000 allowance winner Carving); Groom-Pablo Ochoa (trainer David Martinez); Washington-bred: Olympic Lights (breeder David & Ann Perrigoue)… Saturday’s third race features career-debuting geldings Our Gold Mine and Stretch Home, both kin to stakes-winning siblings at Emerald Downs. The former is a half-brother to You Me and Ema B, Emerald Downs’ Top Older Filly or Mare in 2011, and the latter is a half- to stakes winners Arco Iris and 2000 Longacres Mile winner Edneator…Touch the Sun is the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in Friday’s $13,750 feature race for Washington-bred 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Tough Road Ahead and Memphis Beach are both coming off impressive victories opening week victories, while former stakes winners He’s All Heart and Wasserman, look to rediscover their winning ways. ‘Heart is four-for-nine at six furlongs and also captured the 2011 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic…Trainers Mike Chambers, 49 wins and Jeff Metz, 46, finished third and fourth at the 2012-13 Turf Paradise meeting that ended Tuesday…Saturday’s feature at Hastings Racecourse is the $50,000 Ross McLeod Memorial for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs. Alert in Class, a $230,000 Henny Hughes filly who most recently raced at Fair Grounds, I Think So, a new shooter for co-owners Mark Dedomenico and Glen Todd, and Goldstryke Glory, runner-up in a $150,000 stakes at Woodbine, head the field in the McLeod…Sunday at Hastings, 3-year-old colts face off in the $50,000 Jim Coleman Province at 6 ½ furlongs. The unbeaten Bridge Jumper and double stakes winners Glenco Kid and Proud Victor head the field…EmD fastest times (thru May 5): 5F—Seattle Game, :56.80, April 27; 5 ½ F—Exclusive Diva, 1:01.56, April 21; 6F—Polish Dollar, 1:08.09, April 20; 6 ½ F—Cat Von Diva, 1:18.70, May 3; 1M—El Gran Bebe, 1:39.12, May 4…Emerald Downs career wins (all-time): West Seattle Boy 21, Market Master 16, Bob Stories 16, Fleet Pacific 15, Olympic Lights 15, Kimos Friend, 14 Toobusytoocall 14…Emerald Downs career wins active horses: Olympic Lights 14, Noosa Beach 13, Touch of Elegance 12, Wasserman 12, Buddy Dave 10, Go With Gusto 10, Pete’s Glory Girl 10, Polish Dollar 10…In his longest work to date, Noosa Beach worked five furlongs in :58 1/5 Thursday for trainer Doris Harwood. It was second fastest of 17 works at the distance, and the fifth work for Noosa Beach dating back to April 14…Polish Dollar goes for his second win of the meet and his 11th lifetime at Emerald Downs in Sunday’s eighth race, an $18,900 purse for $25,000 allowance/optional claimers at six furlongs. A 7-year-old Polish Gift gelding, Polish Dollar is five-for-nine since being transferred to trainer Bob Meeking last year. The race also features the comeback of Camp Granada, impressive maiden allowance winner in 2011, and Drift King, the 8-year-old gelding who tries claimers after being reluctant to load before his eighth-place finish to Makors Finale on April 28…Early birthday wishes to Howard Belvoir, who turns 69 on Monday. Belvoir ranks No. 3 on the track’s all-time training list with 602 wins…In Sunday’s second race, Roarified attempts to boost her career record to nine wins in 13 starts while making her first start for trainer Harwood.