Trainer Jeff Metz starts off his title defense with a 5-win day in the season opener.
DEFENDING TRAINING CHAMPION TIES STATE RECORD,
FIST FULL OF GREE PREVAILS IN OPENING DAY FEATURE
AUBURN, Wash. (April 12, 2014) – Jeff Metz, who created a big splash by winning the title in his first season at Emerald Downs last year, apparently means business in his title defense.
The 47-year-old Metz saddled five winners Saturday to equal the track and state record for most training wins on one card shared by Tim McCanna (2010), Doris Harwood (2009) and Jim Penney (1968 and 1998).
In fact, the wins came in bunches throughout the day as Emerald Downs launched its 19th season of live racing on a sunny, windy afternoon.
In addition to the exploits of Metz, jockeys Eliska Kubinova and Rocco Bowen rode three winners apiece, and defending riding champion Isaias Enriquez rode two winners.
Metz, however, etched his names into the record books with a dominant showing by his stable. He led all trainers with eight runners Saturday, compiling a 5-2-0 record that culminated with a 5 ¾-length victory by Attempt in the nightcap for $5,000 claiming maidens.
“I knew I had a lot of live shots, but I didn’t know it was going to be this kind of day,” Metz said. “I’ve had a few three-win days but this is the most I’ve ever won in one day.”
Metz had an inkling when Thatsthewayweroll ($4.20) and Reflective Glory dominated the second race, drawing 6 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher Cherokee Chelsea in the maiden claiming race for 3-year-old fillies. From there, things really took off as Redsolocup ($14) romped by 4 ¼ lengths in race three for 3-year-olds, Always the Same ($12.20) drew clear for a 1 ¼-length win in for older $3,500 claimers in race six, and San Sebastian ($5.40) rallied to defeat older $2,500 claimers in race seven.
Metz didn’t have starters in the eightH or ninth races, but Attempt, a 5-year-old maiden making his 12th career start, drove to the lead into the turn and drew clear late for the victory in race 10.
“Last year, I learned what would work here and what kind of horse would fit in this track’s program,” Metz said. “I love it here. I don’t understand why people don’t bring more horses here.”
In the $18,900 Muckleshoot Tribal Purse for older sprinters, Kubinova guided the Roy Lumm-trained Fist Full of Green to a neck victory over Perfect Night in 1:03.37 for 5 ½ furlongs on a fast track. Camp Granada, the 2-to-5 betting favorite, led to deep stretch but was caught by Fist Full of Green and Perfect Night in the final strides.
A 5-year-old California-bred gelding, Fist Full of Green is 4-2-3 in 13 lifetime starts with earnings of $50,197. Owned by Lumm, Mort Robbins and James and Linda Kirschman, Fist Full of Green earned $10,395 for Saturday’s victory.
NOTES: Poly Squat ($10.40) and jockey Jose Zunino prevailed in the 2014 opener, overtaking 1-to-2 betting favorite Supreme Ballerina in mid-stretch for the win in 1:10.43 for six furlongs. Trained by Chris Stenslie for One Horse Will Do Corporation and Dr. Michael Konecny, Poly Squat was coming off a 19-month layoff and is now 2-0-2 in seven career starts. . .River of Aces ($4.20)—the first horse on the track when training began February 1—improved to 6-for-13 lifetime with a front-running victory in race five under Kubinova for trainer Charles Essex. A 5-year-old Washington-bred mare owned and bred by Dean Essex DVM, River of Aces also won on opening day two years ago and is 4-for-6 at 5 ½ furlongs. . .Race five runner-up Stephanie Plum was attempting to win on opening day for a third consecutive year. . . Lotta Attitude ($3) won the meet’s first maiden special weight event, powering to a 1 ½-length victory in 1:02.99 for 5 ½ furlongs under Juan Gutierrez for trainer Blaine Wright and owners John & Janene Maryanski and Riverbend Farm. A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Sharp Humor, Lotta Attitude compiled two seconds and a third in maiden special weight company at Golden Gate Fields last fall. One of those races, a second beaten a neck by Uzziel on November 23, gained luster Friday when Uzziel scored an $86.20 upset in the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita. . .Live racing continues Sunday with an 11-race card at 2:15 p.m.