WAR WIZARD CONJURES AN UPSET IN EMERALD FEATURE
War Wizard shook off even-money favorite Xerxes entering the stretch and held off Legion of Boom late for a neck victory Saturday in the $11,900 Muckleshoot Casino Purse for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.
Ridden by Leonel Camacho-Flores, War Wizard ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.42 and paid $24.40, $12.80 and $5.40. Rigoberto Velasquez is the winning owner and trainer.
A 7-year-old Kentucky-bred, War Wizard has been a prominent claimer for several years at Emerald Downs, winning twice in both 2012 and 2013, three times in 2014, and once in both 2015 and 2016.
Xerxes, bidding for his fifth win of the meet, dueled with War Wizard through fractions of :22.09 and :44.64, with War Wizard gaining the upper hand into the stretch.
War Wizard kicked two lengths clear past mid-stretch, running six furlongs in 1:09.64, and was all out to hold off an onrushing Legion of Boom.
Legion of Boom, with Ronald Richard riding, paid $15.80 and $5 for place and show, while Fire the Trainer, ridden by Rocco Bowen, rallied from last to finish third and paid $3.20 to show.
Troop Ship, Old Fashioned Grit, John’s Not Bluffin and Xerxes completed the order of finish; Party for One and It’s Little Richie were scratched.
War Wizard has an overall record of 13-9-6 in 49 starts with earnings of $89,521.
NOTES: With War Wizard’s victory and a triumph by Emeraldcity Kitten ($9.40) in the nightcap, Rigoberto Velasquez moved past Dave Bennett into 20th place all-time with 223 wins at Emerald Downs. . .Francisco Duran rode a pair of long shot winners Saturday: Split Pairs ($14.60) in race two and 34-1 bomber Kiss Sin Goodbye ($70.60) in race six. The latter was third highest $2 mutuel at the meet. . .Also in race six, 7-year-old Chu and I finished second for the sixth time in his last eight starts, and continued his amazing streak at Emerald Downs. Since winning the 2011 WTBOA Lads Stakes, Chu and I is winless in 28 starts here, logging 14 seconds and two-thirds during the streak. . .After going down in a spill Friday night, Rocco Bowen swept Saturday’s early double on Gavinator ($5) and So Lucky, and stretched his lead to 51-40 over Leslie Mawing in the jockeys’ standings. Bowen already has 15 multiple win days this season. . .Trainer Howard Belvoir saddled the first and third place finishers in Saturday’s $18,000 maiden special weight for 3-year-olds. So Lucky ($7.20) led gate-to-wire in :57.36 for five furlongs while Don’tbeshywillie finished third in the field of six. The winner is a Washington-bred by Coast Guard-Miss Pixie, owned by Pegasus Too and Rising Star Stable. Atta Boy Bear, from the first crop of Atta Boy Roy, finished second in his debut for trainer Frank Lucarelli. . .There are carryover Sunday of $6,454 in the $0.50 Pick 5 and $1,106 in the $0.20 Pick 7. . .Emerald Downs’ Top 3-Year-Old Filly of 2015 makes her first start with trainer Richard Mandella as Belle Hill races 1 1/16 miles on dirt in the $75,000 Southern Truce Stakes for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita. Owned by Aithon Stable, Belle Hill carries a four-race winning streak into Sunday’s race. . .Live racing continues Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 4:30 p.m. The $50,000 Seattle Slew Stakes for 3-year-olds headlines the action with the annual Fireworks Spectacular Presented by Carl’s Jr. following the races.