MUNCEY PREVAILS IN OPENING NIGHT FEATURE RACE
AUBURN, Wash. (May 19, 2021) – The ultra-consistent Muncey rallied past Starzan and scored a 1 ¼-length victory Wednesday in the $20,900 Muckleshoot Casino Purse as Emerald Downs opened its 25th anniversary season of live racing.
Julien Couton was the riding star opening night with four winners including three straight in races four, five and six. But the equine star was Muncey, a talented son of Munnings whose consistency was finally rewarded in the evening’s feature race.
Ridden by Jennifer Whitaker, Muncey swept by the leaders in the final furlong, and stopped the teletimer in 1:04.12 for 5 ½ furlongs. The winner paid $9.60 as fourth choice in the wagering.
The victory snapped a nine-race skein dating to 2019 and a victory in the WTBOA Lads Stakes. Although winless in 2020, Muncey racked up two seconds, five thirds while earning over $26,000 for trainer Howard Belvoir and owner Rising Star Stable VII. Wednesday’s victory, worth $11,495, boosted the 4-year-old’s earnings to $62,213.
For Whitaker, it was her 508th win at Emerald Downs, good for ninth place on all-time. Belvoir, now with 790 wins at Emerald Downs, ranks third on the all-time trainers’ list.
Starzan, longest shot on the board at 39 to 1, nearly led gate to wire under Cerapio Figueroa, setting fractions of :22.48 and :45.45. Hard to Deny, ridden by Juan Gutierrez, finished third and was followed by Stand To, Spittin Image, Time ’n Time Again and My Grandpa.
Couton, riding here regularly for the first time since winning the 2015 riding crown with 100 wins, notched wins Wednesday on Frisco Frills ($3.60), Zatter ($5.40) and Mister McLean ($6.40).
Total mutuel handle was $1,221,574 on the eight-race card.
NOTES: Madigan Squeeze ($4.80) and jockey Alex Anaya easily won the 2021 opener, scoring gate to wire in :57.74 for five furlongs. A 3-year-old Washington-bred filly by Mr. Rancho Vista, Madigan Squeeze races for Swag Stables and Gregg Kingma. . .Opening night pre-race ceremonies included Al McEachern of Kent performing the national anthem and track announcer Tom Harris introducing the entire Emerald Downs’ riding colony. . .Kevin Radke finished off the board in his first two mounts at Emerald Downs in 13 years, but the two-time riding champ is scheduled to ride six horses Thursday night. . .Trainer Ari Herbertson won with his first ever Emerald Downs’ starter, saddling Playing Through ($7) to a half-length victory in race four. Iron Rob, Herbertson’s second starter Wednesday, finished runner-up to Mister McLean in race six. . .Zatter ($5.40), runner-up in the 2017 Del Mar Futurity, took an immediate liking to the local strip, zipping 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.42 while drilling a field of older $10,000 claimers under Couton for Joe Toye and Greg and Chuck Conley. . .At Canterbury Park, Mr. Jagermeister ($4.40) easily prevailed in the $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes, running six furlongs in 1:08.54. A 6-year-old by the great Washington sprinter Atta Boy Roy, Mr. Jagermeister is 12 for 30 lifetime and nearing $650,000 in career earnings. . .Live racing continues Thursday with a 10-race program at 5 p.m.