STOPSHOPPINGDEBBIE FACES SEVEN IN HASTINGS HANDICAP,
UNBEATEN NW FARMS FILLY READY FOR 2014 SEASON DEBUT
Perfection can add an extra layer of stress, but trainer Tom Wenzel said he isn’t feeling any added pressure heading into Sunday’s $50,000 Hastings Handicap for older fillies and mares at six furlongs.
In the Hastings, Wenzel saddles Northwest Farms’ brilliant 4-year-old filly Stopshoppingdebbie, who carries high weight of 122 lbs against a talented field that includes stable mates Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie, along with the Jim Penney-trained stakes winners Madame Pele and Finding More.
Stopshoppingdebbie drew the outside No. 8 post-position with regular rider Rocco Bowen up. Unbeaten in five career starts with earnings of $128,773, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Curlin has impressed in workouts this spring, capped by a sparkling six furlongs from the gate in 1:10.20 last Saturday.
Lots will be expected from Stopshoppingdebbie this season, obviously, but the stoic Wenzel said it’s a matter of perspective.
“I wish I had more physical gifts when I was an athlete because I never got too nervous or worked up about things,” he said. “I can’t say that I don’t get a little bit nervous (before races) because that would be unnatural. Even with ’Debbie’s streak on the line, I don’t feel pressure from that.
“She’s going to do what she’s going to do. I’m a little more on edge on race day, of course, but that’s to be expected.”
Wenzel said Stopshoppingdebbie hasn’t missed a beat this spring, logging nine workouts capped by Saturday’s gate drill.
“Training and racing throughout last season, ’Debbie was always 100 percent,” Wenzel said. “She’s come back every bit as good this year. She had a really good workout from the gate. She’s definitely ready. She’s going to do her thing, whatever that is. Hopefully, win.”
Wenzel said Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie also are training well.
“Goin to the Window has a big upside talent-wise, but whenever I ran her a mile or longer, she struggled in the gate, Wenzel said. “I definitely think there’s some more potential there.
“Blueberry Smoothie probably has the least amount of raw talent of the three fillies, but she’s a hard-trying little filly.”
· The leader at the eighth pole has won 13 of the last 14 runnings of the Hastings, including 2013 winner E Z Kitty, who led Exclusive Diva by a head en route to a two-length win in 1:08.26.
· Southern California shipper Quizzical is stabled with Rosie Simkins at Emerald Downs. A 5-year-old Washington-bred by Cindago-Mahaska, Quizzical was 3-4-1 in 18 starts with trainer Mark Glatt in California, earning $192,900.
· There are three Washington-breds in the race—Quizzical, Finding More and Madame Pele. Last year, Washington-breds won 11-of-23 open stakes at Emerald Downs. Kentucky-breds were second with seven stakes wins, followed by British Columbia with three and Texas with two.
· Sunday’s weather calls for sunshine and a high of 69 degrees.
The field for Sunday’s 19th running of the $50,000 Hastings Handicap (from the rail out): Blueberry Smoothie, Javier Matias, 118 lbs.; She’s Stella Marie, Anne Sanguinetti, 116; Madame Pele, Gallyn Mitchell, 119; Finding More, Eliska Kubinova, 117; Ms. Sutherland, Jose Zunino, 114; Goin to the Window, Juan Gutierrez, 118; Quizzical, Isaias Enriquez, 117; Stopshoppingdebbie, Rocco Bowen, 122.
THE PRESS BOX PODCAST IS BACK ON THE AIRWAVES!
Sunday’s $50,000 Hastings Handicap for older fillies and mares kicks off the 29-race stakes program in 2014. The race also marks the return of The Press Box Podcast.
A 45-minute podcast live from the media office atop the grandstand, The Press Box Podcast will be broadcast every stakes day this season.
Hosted by Jacob Pollowitz (a.k.a. Professor Pollowitz), The Press Box Podcast begins approximately 30 minutes before each stakes and features interviews with horsemen, analysis from the track’s Director of Media Relations Vince Bruun, track announcer Robert Geller’s live call of the race, and post-race interviews and analysis.
The podcast link can be found on the Emerald Downs Web site, as well as the track’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, or at www.mixlr.com/emerald-downs.
RETURN OF DAVID G. LOPEZ BOLSTERS JOCKEY COLONY
The jockeys’ colony bolstered its ranks this week when Peruvian native David G. Lopez pulled into Auburn to compete in his second season at Emerald Downs.
Fifth in last year’s standings with 52 wins, Lopez’ return means the top nine riders from last season are all back. Traversing through the barn area Thursday morning, Lopez said he was happy to be back and ready to roll.
“I just got in yesterday, but it’s good to be here,” Lopez said. “I have three mounts Friday and then I ride almost the whole card on Saturday. After the meet, I’ll probably go back to California, but I plan to stay here for the whole season.”
During the Emerald Downs off-season, Lopez worked under contract for top Peruvian trainer Oscar Pena back in his home country. Lopez also made a trip to Argentina with Pena to ride Dr Action in the Carlos Pellegrini Stakes (G1). Lopez also plans to ride the 4-year-old Argentinean colt in the $200,000 Charles Whittingham (G1) on May 24 at Santa Anita.
At Emerald Downs, Lopez will work alongside agent David “Marbles” Singer, looking to build on his 1,093 career wins and nearly $19 million in earnings.
ENRIQUEZ SET TO THROW OUT FIRST PITCH AT M’S GAME
Isaias Enriquez will be in Seattle Monday night to throw out the first pitch before the Mariners game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Game time is 7:10 p.m. at Safeco Field.
Enriquez earned the honor by winning last year’s riding title at Emerald Downs, and joins 2012 riding champion Juan Gutierrez as EmD jockeys with first pitch honors at a Mariners’ game. Gutierrez threw out the first pitch before a Mariners-Orioles game last June, and nailed a 70 MPH strike.
Enriquez said he plans to practice throwing with his agent, Vito Lucarelli, a former catcher at Western Washington University.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Trainer-Robbie Baze (8-4-0-1); Jockey-Leslie Mawing (16-7-3-2, track record five straight wins); Owner-Barbara Schmid (2-1-1-0); Groom-Marco Cruz (Dan Markle); Washington-bred-Ducoti (breeder Stephen Quilici). . .4-year-old filly Spot On Babe earned her second straight 78 Beyer at the meet for Frank Lucarelli and Ron Crockett Inc. A Washington-bred by Tribal Rule, Spot On Babe ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.42 while edging Clemens Brook in Friday’s feature race. . .4-year-old gelding Country Rules was given a 72 for Saturday’s feature race victory, running 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.72, and 3-year-old gelding Del Rio Harbor earned a career-high 73 for Sunday’s allowance feature, running 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.65 on a sloppy track. . .Dan Markle and Sue & Tim Spooner are the only trainer and owner with more than one feature race win at the meet, combining with 3-year-old filly Strawberry Dawn in the $18,900 feature race on April 13, and 4-year-old gelding Country Rules in the $18,900 feature race on May 3. . .Nate Chaves, who rode 18 winners here last year and is No. 10 all-time with 417 wins at Emerald Downs, is riding in Kentucky and rode five winners at Turfway Park this spring and one at Keeneland. . .Nominations close Saturday for the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs, to be run Sunday, May 18. The Governor’s is first stop on the road to the 79th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 24. . . 4-year-old gelding Disruption, set to make his season debut in the Governor’s, worked six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 Thursday for trainer Monique Snowden. . . Another good 4-year-old, Mike Man’s Gold, is among six 4-year-olds and up entered in Sunday’s $17,950 sub-feature for $32,000/$25,000 claimers at 6 ½ furlongs. Mike Man’s Gold earned an 80 Beyer while winning a $32,000 claimer in 1:08.01 on April 26. . .The broodmare Peaceful Wings, featured in this week’s Thoroughbreds After the Finish Line, has yet another up and comer at Emerald Downs, the 2-year-old filly Peaceful Nation in Jim Penney’s barn. A bay filly by Nationhood, Peaceful Nation could become the 12th horse out of Peaceful Wings to win a race at Emerald Downs, a list that includes stakes winners Jade Green, Peaceful Reign and Jebrica. . .Trainer Robbie Baze said Chu and You, sixth in the Ross McLeod Stakes last week at Hastings Racecourse, emerged from the race in good shape and is pointed to the $50,000 Seattle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, June 1. . .2013 claimer of the meet Kind of Naughty breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Thursday for Lucarelli. A 5-year-old Songandaprayer mare, Kind of Naughty has been off since finishing second to E Z Kitty in the Kachina Handicap on New Year’s Day at Turf Paradise. . .Early birthday wishes to trainer Howard Belvoir, who celebrates his 70th Tuesday.