STRYKER PHD LOOKS TO SCALE MT. RAIN IER SUNDAY,
FACES EIGHT IN FINAL STOP BEFORE LONGACRES MILE
If Stryker Phd continues to improve, the 2014 Longacres Mile could have his name on it.
In winning the June 15 Budweiser Handicap, the 5-year-old Bertrando gelding rallied from ninth place to win by 3 ¼ lengths in a stakes record 1:34.15, and tied his career-high Beyer with a 97. It was a sensational effort, especially considering it was in a route against a quality field off a seven-month layoff.
Sunday, Stryker Phd heads a field of nine older runners in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. For older horses, the Mt. Rainier represents the final local race before the 79th renewal of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 24.
Runner-up to Herbie D in last year’s Mile, Stryker Phd currently sits atop the local division for the 2014 Mile—especially after his dominating run in the Budweiser.
“He exceeded my expectations in the Budweiser,” assistant trainer Sharon Ross said of Stryker Phd. “He had been training up to it really good and he was dead-fit enough. He came back great from the race. He is a more mature horse this year. You can just see it in the way he’s training this year.”
Stryker Phd will need to move forward in the Mt. Rainier, avoiding a “bounce” while facing the likes of Governor’s Handicap winner Why Not Be Perfect and Budweiser Handicap runner-up Mr. Bowling. The latter comes off a victory in the July 3 Lt Governor’s Handicap at Hastings Racecourse and is 4-2-0 in eight starts at 1 1/16 miles.
Worldventurer, seven-length winner of last year’s Emerald Derby, and Disruption, a talented sprinter stretching out, add depth to the race.
As for Stryker Phd, the gelding has logged three works since his win, continuing to show signs of a top handicap horse.
“Larry likes his horses to work strong,” Sharon Ross said. “Stryker can be a little unfocused if he doesn’t have anything to chase. Leslie (Mawing) knows him well now, so he’s good making sure that Stryker doesn’t get too lazy in the morning.
“I believe there is a bounce factor,” Ross added, “but I believe that these two races were spread enough a part that he’s had plenty of time to recover.”
A deep closer, Stryker Phd is vulnerable if a soft pace develops Sunday.
“If there’s no pace, Leslie’s going to have to be careful,” Ross said. “Hopefully, Leslie will have a good clock and he’ll know what to do if the pace is too slow. The main thing with closers is to not let the leaders crawl in front of you.”
· The Mt. Rainier Handicap is race eight on a 10-race card, with post time 5:39 p.m.
· Julien Couton returns to Emerald Downs for the mount aboard Worldventurer for trainer Blaine Wright. A 33-year-old native of Aizenay, France, Couton was 2-1-0 in four stakes mounts here last year with victories on Worldventurer in the Emerald Derby and Del Rio Harbor in the Gottstein Futurity.
· Commander, high-weighed at 124 lbs, runs in the $50,000 Fred Jones Handicap at Northlands Park. A 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding, Commander is 9-0-1 in 10 career starts on the Edmonton track.
The field for Sunday’s $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap (from the rail out, with handicap weights): Dontmesswithkitten, Rocco Bowen, 114 lbs; Mr. Bowling, Isaias Enriquez, 119; Worldventurer, Julien Couton, 118; Shooting Jacket, Felipe Valdez, 115; Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 118; Disruption, Eliska Kubinova, 116; Stryker Phd, Leslie Mawing, 121; Jebrica, Juan Gutierrez, 118; Somewhere With You, Javier Matias, 115.
Trackattacker setting the track record at 4 1/2 furlongs in his career debut.
TRACKATTACKER HEADLINES $50,000 EMERALD EXPRESS
One of the sharpest debut winners in Emerald Downs’ history, Trackattacker returns to action Sunday in the $50,000 Emerald Express for 2-year-old colts and geldings at six furlongs.
Exploding onto the scene June 1, Trackattacker set a track record of :49.98 for 4 ½ furlongs while romping by nine-lengths vs. maiden special weights. The 74 Beyer is the largest by a juvenile at Emerald Downs since Music of My Soul received a 74 in the 2012 Gottstein Futurity.
Trackattacker heads a field of six in the Emerald Express, the first of eight stakes this season for 2-year-olds at Emerald Downs. Private Boss, 5 ¾-length winner vs. maiden $25,000 claimers, and My Grandson, who flew late to miss by a head vs. straight maidens figure to be the top threats.
A Harbor the Gold gelding purchased for $25,000 by Roy Schaefer at the 2013 Washington September Sale, Trackattacker showed trainer Frank Lucarelli flashes of brilliance leading up to the debut.
“We thought he could run,” Lucarelli said. “One morning, he got away from the rider a little bit and put eight lengths on the horse he was working with like it was nothing. We got Leslie (Mawing) on him and throttled him down a little bit.”
News on fast 2-year-old tends to spread quickly, and Lucarelli said his phone did ring after the sparkling debut. But according to Lucarelli, Schaefer is reluctant to sell such a promising prospect. And it’s reasonable to wonder if the man who owned the great Atta Boy Roy has another star colt on his hands.
“He’s trained good (since his debut) and he’s doing good,” Lucarelli said of Trackattacker. “He’s a fast horse.”
· The Emerald Express is race nine on a 10-race program, with post time 6:09 p.m.
· Del Rio Harbor won the 2013 Emerald Express at 15-to-1, the first of three stakes wins en route to honors as Top 2-Year-Old Male.
The field for Sunday’s $50,000 Emerald Express: Monster Wave, Anne Sanguinetti, 118; My Grandson, Rocco Bowen, 118; Moonee Beach, Isaias Enriquez, 118; Trackattacker, Leslie Mawing, 120; Bolshoi’s Bluff, L.F. Gonzalez, 118; Private Boss, Felipe Valdez, 120.
Find Your Spot winning last month's Irish Day Handicap.
FIND YOUR SPOT SEEKS ANOTHER SCORE IN $50,000 KENT
When Come Away Home was victorious in Sunday’s $16,000 feature race for $8,000 starter allowance runners at Hastings Racecourse, it continued a remarkable hot streak for owners Paul Heist and Jack Fabulich.
Heist and Fabulich, whose racing nom de course is Where We At, have won with eight of their last nine starters, a remarkable hot streak that could continue this weekend at Emerald Downs.
Saturday, Find Your Spot runs in the $50,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. And Sunday, Jebrica goes in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles. Jim Penney trains both runners, each looking to take another step toward the meet’s championship events in their divisions.
Find Your Spot carries a four-race win streak into the Kent, scoring victories at Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita, and twice at Emerald Downs, including the June 29 Irish Day Handicap. In the latter event, Find Your Spot surged past Chu and You and Belladiva for a 1 ¼-length victory in 1:35.78 for one mile. Her overall mark is 5-1-2 in eight starts with earnings of $99,820.
Ole’s Miss, a double stakes winner this year at Hastings Racecourse, and Chu and You, runner-up in both the Seattle and Irish Day Handicaps at Emerald Downs, also figure to have strong support in the Kent.
· The Kent Handicap goes as race eight at 5:54 p.m.
· Ole’s Miss, the staring high-weight at 120 lbs, bids to become the first shipper since Guinevere in 1998 to win the race. Hastings shippers are 0-for-4 in the Kent, the best showing a second by Rainier Country in 1999.
· Biggest winning Beyer is a 94 by Youcan’ttakeme in 2003 Kent Handicap (1 1/16 miles in 1:41.20).
· Far Niente, nominated to the Kent, runs Saturday vs. older fillies and mares in an $18,000 allowance at Hastings Racecourse.
The field for Saturday’s $50,000 Kent Handicap: Ole’s Miss, Leslie Mawing, 120 lbs; Mylast Sweet Pea, Gallyn Mitchell, 114; Belladiva, Ronald Richard, 117; Papa’s Flashy Girl, Anne Sanguinetti, 113; Find Your Spot, Isaias Enriquez, 119; Chu and You, Juan Gutierrez, 119.
NOTES: Weekly honors: Jockey-Eliska Kubinova (18-7-6-1); Trainer-Sam Dronen (3-1-1-0); Owner-Emerald Racing Club (1-1-0-0); Groom-Jose Diaz (trainer Doris Harwood); Washington-bred-Noosito (breeder Bar C Racing Stables Inc.). . Noosito earned a career-high 87 Beyer in Sunday’s 1 ¾-length win over Del Rio Harbor in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap. . .Del Mar began its 75th season of summer racing Thursday, a 36-day meet that runs through Wednesday, September 3. Post time is 2 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 4 p.m. Fridays. The lone exception is a 1 p.m. first post on Pacific Classic Day, Sunday, August 24. . .Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores is sore from last weekend’s spill and won’t ride this week, according to agent Denise Mitchell. Currently tied for eighth with 15 wins, the 30-year-old Camacho-Flores was unseated when War Prince fell into the turn in Sunday’s first race. . .Jockey of the week Eliska Kubinova rode multiple winners all three days last week and has ridden winners on eight of the last nine cards. . .With 40 of 74 race days in the books, Leslie Mawing leads Rocco Bowen 57-45 in the jockeys’ standings, and Jeff Metz leads Frank Lucarelli 36-25 in the trainers’ race. . .Couldabenthewhiskey is on the comeback trail, logging two recent three-furlong works for trainer Bonnie Jenne. The track’s Top 2-Year-Old Male in 2010, Couldabenthewhiskey hasn’t raced since finishing second in the 2012 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic. . . Sunshine in Rio, a double winner at the meet for trainer Tim McCanna, has shipped to California and runs in a $5,000 claimer Saturday at Sacramento. . .McCanna also has two $100,000-plus 2-year-olds set to make their debuts for owner Jethorse Inc. this weekend at Del Mar.