ALEX CRUZ, AKASI COMBINE FOR AMAZING VICTORY
AUBURN, Wash. (Sept. 19, 2021) – In one of the most incredible riding feats in track history, jockey Alex Cruz rode the entire 5 ½ furlongs without irons and somehow emerged victorious aboard Akasi in Sunday’s fourth race at Emerald Downs.
Cruz lost his irons leaving the gate, dropped over 15 lengths behind the field as Cruz tried in vain to get his feet back in the stirrups, raced extremely wide into the stretch, and somehow managed to rally past all four rivals for a three-quarter-length victory in 1:06.52 for 5 ½ furlongs.
Although Cruz was unable to get his feet in the irons, he had the wherewithal to urge Akasi through the stretch and win the race. Owned and bred by Jack Hodge’s Oak Crest Farm and trained by David Martinez, Akasi paid $4.20 as the betting favorite
“At the start, she stumbled and ducked out, that’s when I lost my irons,” Cruz said. “I tried to recover but it was so muddy and my boots were slipping. I was going to pull her up going into the turn, but when we started to gain some ground, we went on with it!”
A 2-year-old Run Away and Hide filly, Akasi had finished second in all three previous starts including a runner-up in the Angie C Stakes.
A 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico, Cruz is vying for a second straight riding title at Emerald Downs. Cruz recorded four wins Sunday and is tied with Julien Couton for first with 73 wins apiece. Two days remain in the season–Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26.
In the winner’s circle, Hodge marveled at Cruz’ riding feat.
“I’ve always loved Alex Cruz because he always rides hard the whole race even if he’s not going to win,” Hodge said. “Today he had every reason to pull my filly up after losing his irons, but he knows the filly and her closing style and chose to continue riding. Alex is a tremendous athlete.”
SLEW’S TIZ WHIS PREVAILS IN SUNDAY FEATURE RACE
In Sunday’s $20,900 Comfort Inn Auburn Purse for 3-year-olds and up, Slew’s Tiz Whiz rallied for a 2 ½-length victory under jockey Jose Zunino.
A 3-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Slew’s Tiznow, Slew’s Tiz Whiz ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.07 on a sloppy track and paid $3.60 to win. Tom Wenzel is the winning trainer for K D Thoroughbreds.
Slew’s Tiz Whiz is 3-1-1 in eight starts, including a third in the Muckleshoot Derby, and has earnings of $43,245.
Alpine Hypnosis finished second and Perfect Dude ran third.
NOTES: Mutuel handle totaled $1,243,615 on a 10-race program. . .Heading into closing week, Alex Cruz and Julien Couton are tied for first with 73 wins each while Joe Toye leads Frank Lucarelli 29-24 in the trainers’ race. . .Discreet Demons ($7.60) broke her maiden in start No. 23, scoring in Sunday’s nightcap with Connie Doll up for her first win of the season. . .Three different women riders—McKenna Anderson, Jennifer Whitaker and Doll—notched victories Sunday. . .Take Charge Deputy ($3.80) ran six furlongs in 1:08.56 to win Sunday’s $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds and up. . .Float On ($10) became the meet’s fifth four-time winner, leading gate to wire for trainer Candi Cryderman and owner John Parker. Ridden by Couton, the 3-year-old Bluegrass Cat gelding ran six furlongs in 1:09.69. . .With the victory, Parker opened a 17-15 lead over Greg Conley, Chuck Conley and Terra Firma Farm atop the owners’ standings. . .Trainer Jeff Metz scored his 300th Emerald Downs win Sunday, reaching the feat with Perfect D ($5.40) in race seven. . .Lucarelli finished first and second with Whidbey Prince ($46) and Brother Robert in race eight. Ridden by Jose Zunino, Whidbey Prince has won three of his last four starts for owners Mutiny Bay Backstretch. . .Only two days of racing left in the 2021 season: Saturday, Sept. 25 (6 p.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 26 (2:30 p.m.)