BARKLEY NIPS MACH ONE RULES IN AUBURN THRILLER
In a long-awaited match-up of undefeated 3-year-olds, Barkley simply would not be denied Sunday in the $50,000 Auburn Stakes at Emerald Downs.
Responding to jockey Javier Matias, Barkley unleashed a bold rally and scored a heart-pounding head victory over Mach One Rules in the season’s first stakes event for 3-year-old colts and geldings.
“When we took the rail, I could feel my horse drop down low and turn it on,” Matias said. “He’s a super nice horse, wants to run good every time.”
Barkley ran 6 ½ furlongs in a stakes record 1:14.21 and paid $4.60, $2.80 and $2.10. Howard Belvoir is the winning trainer and co-owner with Rising Star Stables III.
Mach One Rules, last year’s track and state champion 2-year-old, suffered his first loss in five career starts but might have gained stature in defeat. Ridden by Leslie Mawing, the runner-up paid $2.60 and $2.10.
Mach One Rules gained the lead from Seeking a Mystery on the turn, gained a short advantage into the lane, and resisted gamely when challenged by Access This on the outside and Barkley on the inside.
Also, Mach One Rules was making his 2016 debut while Barkley and third-place finisher Access This had recent races under their belts. Mach One Rules gained a tactical advantage when Barkley momentarily was blocked, as Seeking a Mystery began to tire along the inside. Mach One Rules spurted to the lead with Access This flanked to his outside, while Barkley was stuck inside.
“My horse broke good but was bothered right away when the No. 3 (Seeking a Mystery) came out on us,” Matias said. “We got on the fence to save ground, but then (Access This) beat us to the outside spot, and fortunately the rail opened up.”
Access This, ridden by Julien Couton, finished a length behind Mach One Rules and paid $2.20 to show. William Crotty and Cliff’s Turn finished fourth and fifth while early leader Seeking a Mystery weakened to last. Viewingthegold was scratched earlier in the day.
Sunday’s match-up was deemed so close that only $400 separated Mach One Rules ($18,701) and Barkley ($18,322) in the win pool, both horses going off at 6-5 odds.
Barkley is unbeaten in four starts with two stakes wins and $77,275 in earnings, including $27,500 for the Auburn triumph.
The result sets up a rematch in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Stakes at one mile on June 5.
“You seldom have two undefeated horses settle it on the track like today,” Belvoir said. “(Barkley) is a very nice horse, and he beat a nice horse.”
ARCHIE GRAHAM WINS A SPINE-CHILLER FOR ERC
Barkley wasn’t the only cliffhanger Sunday at Emerald Downs. In the day’s ninth race, Archie Graham—in his debut for Emerald Racing Club—out-finished a wall of horses to win the $10,000 claimer.
Ridden by Leslie Mawing for trainer Larry Ross and the 200-member owner syndicate, Archie Graham ($10.20) defeated He’s Cagey by a head while running one mile in 1:36. One and a-half lengths separated the top four finishers.
As usual, a special procedure was needed for the traditional winner’s photograph. Instead of being led into the winner’s circle, the sheer volume of people required the photograph be taken on the racetrack with 200 jubilant owners surrounding Archie Graham in a semi-circle.
Claimed for $8,000 on March 24 at Golden Gate Fields, Archie Graham earned $6,325 for Sunday’s win and continued a remarkable success story.
Founded in 2014 by Sophia McKee, Emerald Racing Club membership has grown each season, from 128 members in its inaugural year, up to 188 last year, and finally to the maximum 200 for 2016.In three seasons, Emerald Racing Club has compiled an overall record of 6-3-1 in 16 starts with earnings of $47,073—a sparkling $2,942 per race.
NOTES: Sunday’s $0.50 Pick 5 paid $9,981.20 to one winning ticket—second biggest of the meet and fifth biggest all-time at Emerald Downs. The sequence featured three double-digit winners: seventh race Credit Line ($24.80), Archie Graham, and 10th race Moossa’s Legacy ($17.20). . .Trainer Steve Bullock sent out back-to-back winners—Copy Begone ($19.40) in race three and Dana’s Fast Ridge ($22.20) in race four. Bullock finished one-two with Dana’s Fast Ridge edging Carson’s Fireball for the victory. . .Mawing and Leonel Camacho-Flores rode two winners each Sunday. . .With six weeks in the books, Mawing leads Rocco Bowen 21-20 atop the jockeys’ standings. . .In the trainers’ race, Blaine Wright owns a 12-10 lead over Mike Puhich. . .Joe Steiner rode 4-year-old gelding Ketchum ($4.60) to a sharp maiden victory in race two, but was off his final four mounts with sore knees. Steiner lost an iron and bailed off Croix Du Soleil at the start of race three. . .Props to Professor Pollowitz for his key role in acquiring Archie Graham for Emerald Racing Club. Pollowitz was adamant that Archie Graham would fit nicely as a medium-level claimer at EmD, especially switching to a dirt surface. . .Francisco Duran rode his first winner of the meet, Moossa’s Legacy, in Sunday’s nightcap. Duran finished seventh last year with 33 winners, but missed the first four weeks while finishing the meet at Sunland Park. . . Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m.