GOVERNOR’S STAKES BEGINS ROAD TO MILE, 11 RUNNERS VIE SUNDAY AT 6 ½ FURLONGS
Trainer Jeff Metz won’t sneak up on anybody in the Governor’s Stakes this year, not with Kaabraaj coming off a track and state record performance for six furlongs last month.
Kaabraaj, a 4-year-old Abraaj gelding, heads a field of 11 older runners entered in Sunday’s $50,000 Governor’s Stakes at Emerald Downs. At 6 ½ furlongs, the Governor’s is first stop en route to the 81st running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on August 14, a series that also features the $50,000 Budweiser Stakes at one mile on June 19 and $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/16 mile on July 17.
As for the Governor’s, the 11-horse field is the biggest ever for the race at Emerald Downs, breaking the mark of 10 set last year when California invader Fleet Eagle stunned practically everyone with a 6 ¾-length victory at 39-1 odds.
Metz played a key role last year, handling Fleet Eagle’s pre-race workouts and lead-up to the race for California trainer and close friend Paula Capestro. And in 2014, Metz’ saddled Why Not Be Perfect to a stakes record 1:13.72 in a $59.80 Governor’s surprise.
Kaabraaj won’t be anywhere near Fleet Eagle’s 39-1 or Why Not Be Perfect’s 28-1, but he has a good chance to bag another Governor’s victory for Metz.
Claimed for $10,000 from his career debut last year by Horseplayers Racing Club 240, Woodway Stables or Warlock Stables, Kaabraaj is 4-3-3 in 11 subsequent starts, including last month’s amazing triumph in which he led gate-to-wire in 1:06.86, breaking the mark shared by Atta Boy Roy and Noosa Beach. Coincidentally, both Atta Boy Roy and Noosa Beach won the Governor’s—Atta Boy Roy in 2009 and Noosa Beach in 2011.
“That first race of the meet (April 10) he wasn’t fully cranked, so going into the next allowance race I wasn’t expecting the kind of performance he put out there,” Metz said of Kaabraaj. “I could see he had his game face on but I was wowed by that performance. That was just a stellar performance.
“Leading into this race, he couldn’t be training any better. We’ve tried to make him more versatile. He doesn’t mind either style. He’ll do a little bit of both. I don’t know if he’ll bring the same kind of performance that he did last time, but I’m confident in him.”
Metz anticipates a donnybrook in the Governor’s. He especially respects O B Harbor, the 4-year-old Oregon-bred that defeated Kaabraaj by two lengths on April 10.
“There are some other good horses in here,” he said. “O B Harbor always does well when he’s fresh, Prime Engine is good enough to run anywhere in the country, and Absolutely Cool I saw down in Arizona and he strung some good races together.
“It’s not going to be an easy race for anybody.”
Noosito finished second in the 2015 Governor’s but was disqualified and placed sixth for causing interference in the stretch. The 5-year-old Harbor the Gold horse is a wildcard in this year’s Governor’s, following an uncharacteristic last-place finish in the April 23 allowance race won by Kaabraaj. Noosito (15-5-3-3-$198,705) has come back with two five-furlong works for Doris Harwood, including a bullet :57 2/5 on May 8.
Stryker Phd turned in a bullet five furlongs in :59 (breezing) Thursday with regular rider Leslie Mawing up for trainer Larry Ross, back at Emerald Downs after spending the winter and spring at Golden Gate Fields. Owners Jim and Mona Hour also attended the work, which is featured in Thursday’s edition of Training Day. Stryker Phd is on course for the one-mile Budweiser Handicap on June 19.
The Governor’s Stakes goes as Race 8 on a 10-race card. Post time is 5:39 p.m.
The field for the 77th running of the $50,000 Governor’s Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, 6 ½ furlongs: Trick Or Retreat, Ronald Richard, 118 lbs; Noosito, Isaias Enriquez, 118; Kaabraaj, Juan Gutierrez, 120; O B Harbor, Jose Zunino,118; Betrbegone, Javier Matias, 118; Its Allabout Jerry, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 118; Dedicated to You, Eswan Flores, 118; Mike Man’s Gold, Rocco Bowen, 118; Prime Engine, Joe Steiner, 120; Absolutely Cool, Jake Barton, 120; Arrom Bear, Leslie Mawing, 118.
HASTINGS KICKS OFF STAKES TWINBILL, KIKISOBLU RETURNS FROM 10-MONTH HIATUS
In the race directly preceding the Governor’s, older fillies and mares battle six furlongs in the $50,000 Hastings Stakes. A field of eight is entered including defending champion Kikisoblu and 2015 WTBOA champion 3-year-old filly Ethan’s Baby.
Kikisoblu makes her first start since a third to stablemate Lady Rosberg in the 2015 Boeing Handicap. A 5-year-old Kodiak Kowboy mare, Kikisoblu (6-4-0-2-$79,524) bids to become the first repeat winner in the 20-year history of the Hastings.
The Hastings Stakes goes as Race 7 with post time 5:09 p.m.
Hastings Stakes nominee Wonderful Lie is entered in a $58,000 allowance/optional claiming race Saturday at Santa Anita.
The field for the 21st running of the $50,000 Hastings Stakes for older fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up, six furlongs: Among the Stars, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 118; Estellara, Erick Lopez, 118; Ronda Rocks, Isaias Enriquez, 118; Queen’s Rush, Francisco Duran, 118; Kikisoblu, Rocco Bowen, 118; Locket, Leslie Mawing, 118; Ethan’s Baby, Joe Steiner, 118; Citizen Kitty, Juan Gutierrez, 120.
2015 Hastings Handicap
FRIDAY RACING BEGINS WITH $2,531 PICK 7 CARRYOVER
The $0.20 Pick 7 has produced another carryover and will kick off Friday’s with $2,531 seeded in the pool.
The track’s newest exotic wager includes all seven races, first post at approx. 6:35 p.m. The average field size Friday is nine horses per race including three races with double-digit fields.
THE PRESS BOX PODCAST: HASTINGS/GOVERNOR’S STAKES
The 45-minute program will showcase every stakes race this season including Sunday’s $50,000 Hastings Stakes and $50,000 Governor’s Stakes. The broadcast will spotlight trainer Jeff Metz, who talks about Kaabraaj’s chances in the Governor’s as well as Citizen Kitty’s status heading into the Hastings.
Hosted by Jacob Pollowitz (Professor Pollowitz) and Vince Bruun (Mr. Media), The Press Box Podcast starts approx. 30 minutes before post time before each stakes race and includes horsemen interviews, handicapping, Matt Dinerman’s live race call, the Winner’s Circle interview and a comprehensive look at the race’s history.
You can listen to the show live or recorded by visiting the track website at emeralddowns.com or at mixlr.com/emerald-downs.
PREAKNESS PANCAKES SET FOR SATURDAY
Whether Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist captures the second jewel of the Triple Crown remains to be seen. However one thing is for certain, Preakness Pancakes at Emerald Downs!
From 9 to 11 a.m., the track’s annual “Preakness Pancakes” show includes free admission, program, and a pancake and bacon breakfast.
Hosted by TV host Jacob Pollowitz and track announcer Matt Dinerman, Preakness Pancakes will feature an inside look at the inner workings at Emerald Downs including morning training by several local horses on the racetrack. Fans also have an opportunity to hop aboard and take pictures with fan favorite and 2008 Longacres Mile winner Wasserman. Following the two-hour program, fans are invited to take a tour through the Emerald Downs backstretch.
As for the second leg of the Triple Crown, several of the nation’s top 3-year-olds look to dethrone likely prohibitive favorite Nyquist in the 141st running of The Preakness Stakes. The race is the featured event at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and is scheduled to go off at 3:18 p.m.
Emerald Downs will offer advance wagering on the entire Pimlico Saturday card starting 8 a.m. on Friday morning. Included on the wagering menu is the Pimlico Daily Double from The Black Eyed Susan Stakes (Race 11 at 1:50 p.m. on Friday) to the Preakness Stakes (Race 13 at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday.) The first race at Pimlico on Preakness Saturday is at 7:30 a.m., with gates opening at 7:00 a.m.
Live racing at Emerald Downs begins at approx. 2 p.m.
May 21: Preakness Pancakes/Emerald AM/Preakness Stakes
May 21: Armed Forces Day
May 30: Memorial Day Racing & Family Fun Day
June 3 Brewer’s Night
BEYERS & FAST TIMES
Friday, May 13
Race 1: B B’s Quick Action-49
Race 2: Racetrackrummy-65*
Race 3: Stormin Cozzene-45*
Race 4: Command Authority-44*
Race 5: Top Kitty Cat-66*
Race 6: Mike Man’s Gold-82
Race 7: Portray Ur Vision-47
Saturday, May 14
Race 1: Swiss Script-72*
Race 2: Calex-71
Race 3: Pippa Bou Peep-58
Race 4: Guinevere’s Finale-66
Race 5: Moon Zoom-51
Race 6: Hard Slider-67
Race 7: Always Macho-63
Race 8: Party Pooper-81**
Race 9: Due Go On-53*
Sunday, May 15
Race 1: Inseperable Cash-(qh)
Race 2: Ketchum-75*
Race 3: Copy Begone-67*
Race 4: Dana’s Fast Ridge-43
Race 5: Xerxes-74*
Race 6: Seattles Best Copy-65*
Race 7: Credit Line-74*
Race 8: Barkley-84*
Race 9: Archie Graham-70
Race 10: Moossa’s Legacy- 47
** Tied Career-high
# First-time starter
5 Furlongs :56.45 Swiss Script (3yof), May 14
5 ½ Furlongs 1:00.97 O B Harbor (4yo), April 10
6 Furlongs 1:06.86* Kaabraaj (4yo), April 23
6 ½ Furlongs 1:14.21 Barkley (3yo), May 15
1 Mile: 1:35.27 Oldtimers Vision (5yo), April 30
TWO-TIME MILE CHAMP STRYKER PHD STRUTS HIS STUFF
Stryker Phd, undefeated in eight consecutive stakes races at Emerald Downs including the last two Longacres Miles, breezed five furlongs on Thursday morning in :59 flat (1/7). Regular rider Leslie Mawing was aboard the 7-year-old gelding with trainer Larry Ross and owners Jim and Mona Hour in attendance.
Similar to his racing schedule in 2014 and 2015, Stryker Phd will make his 2016 debut in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap on June 19.
EmD TWO-MINUTE CLIP: JOE WITHEE
Director of Publicity Joe Withee is a handicapper, horse owner, statistics extraordinaire and is this week’s “Two-Minute Clip!”
WEEKLY HONORS #6 (May 13-15): Jockey- Javier Matias (pictured above) ( Barkley -Auburn Stakes); Trainer- Steve Bullock (4-2-1-0); Owner- Ron Bohlman (3-1-1); Quarter Chute Café Groom- Rafael Melendes ( Roy Lumm ); WTBOA Washington-bred- Mike Man’s Gold ( Keith & Jan Swagerty breeders); Exercise Rider of the Week- Abbie Johnson ( Doris Harwood ).
FINISH LINES: This Sunday’s 10-races drew a whopping 95 horses or 9.5 runners per race, and Friday’s seven-race card totals 63 horses for a sparkling 9.0 runners per race. . .With victories last Sunday, Copy Begone , Xerxes and Barkley became the 11th, 12th and 13th horses with two wins at the meet. Others with two wins: Inexcess Again, Love Cautiously, Queen’s Rush, Mike Man’s Gold, Night Train Lane, Seattles Best Copy, Knight Club, Classic Grand, Native Causeway and Chaching Pete . . .Saturday’s feature race is a $12,300 purse for $15,000 claiming 3-year-olds and up which have never won two races: War Wizard, Whiskey Prince, Advancement, Illumination Road, Big Hat Charlie and Swingshift Deputy . . .Trainer Kevin Eikelberry has his first Emerald Downs’ starter, Excessivelyblessed, entered in Saturday’s fourth race. Eikelberry, 63, comes off a strong showing this winter/spring at Turf Paradise, finishing tied for fourth with 27 wins in 89 starts. . .Speaking of Saturday’s fourth race, Sunrise Glow , a 3-year-old Distorted Humor filly that sold for $260,000 as a yearling, makes her career debut for trainer Tom Wenzel and owner Ten Broeck Farm.