O B HARBOR A SHOWSTOPPER IN GOVERNOR’S
O B Harbor ran like a super horse Sunday at Emerald Downs, racing to a 4 ¼-length victory over Absolutely Cool in the $50,000 Governor’s Stakes for 3-year-olds and up.
Ridden by Jose Zunino at 118 lbs, O B Harbor ran 6 ½ furlongs in a stakes record 1:13.59 and paid $8.40, $4 and $3.20. Chris Stenslie is the winning trainer for owner One Horse Will Do Corporation.
O B Harbor scored a decisive victory despite dueling with Kaabraaj through some of the fastest fractions in track history. The 4-year-olds battled through splits of :21.58 and :42.67, opening a 10-length gap on third-place Betrbegone, and it was reasonable to assume they would pay the price in the stretch run.
O B Harbor, however, kept right on going, putting away Kaabraaj a furlong from the finish—running six furlongs in 1:06.98—and drawing clear to the wire.
“He does his own thing, he’s a speed horse,” Zunino said of O B Harbor. “He’s strong and I know Kaabraaj is a fast horse too. So I needed to put pressure early, in case someone tried to come from behind and pass me.
“Coming down the stretch I just tried to focus him. It was a very fast race. I respect the fact that someone could have passed me, but I just needed to run my race.”
An Oregon-bred by Harbor the Gold-Flying Memo, O B Harbor is 2-for-2 at the meet and 4-1-2 in nine career starts with earnings of $78,181, including $27,500 for Sunday’s sparkling triumph.
Absolutely Cool, ridden by Leslie Mawing at 120 lbs, rallied from last to finish second and paid $3.60 and $3. The 9-year-old gelding earned $10,000 to boost his lifetime total to $397,187.
Kaabraaj, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 lbs, was a head back in third and paid $2.60 to show. It was another sharp effort by Kaabraaj, who was coming off a track and state record performance for six furlongs and is 1-2-0 in three starts at the meet.
Dedicated to You and Noosito also rallied from far back to finish in fourth and fifth place, followed by Betrbegone, Trick Or Retreat, Its Allabout Jerry and Mike Man’s Gold.
Prime Engine balked at the starting gate and was scratched by the stewards. Winner of last year’s Emerald Downs Derby, Prime Engine was 5-2 second choice when before he was scratched.
The $50,000 Budweiser Stakes on June 19 is next stop for the older horse division. The one-mile race is expected to feature two-time defending Longacres Mile champion Stryker Phd in his 2016 debut.
ESTELLARA EDGES ETHAN’S BABY IN HASTINGS
The $50,000 Hastings Stakes for older fillies and mares also was a thriller, with Estellara out-finishing Ethan’s Baby in a long stretch battle for a head victory in 1:08.30 for six furlongs.
Ridden by Erick Lopez at 118 lbs, Estellara paid $6.60, $3.60 and $3.20. Len Kasmerski is the winning trainer for owner Roz Barclay of Auburn, Wash.
Estellara’s winning time tied the stakes record shared by No Flies On Doodle (2010), E Z Kitty (2013) and Stopshoppingdebbie (2014). It was far from easy, however, as Ethan’s Baby did everything but win the race, resisting gamely when challenged by Estellara in the stretch.
“Everything went our way,” Lopez said. “She broke great and settled perfect and just angled out. The other horses made me work for it.”
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Henrythenavigator-Nicole’s Dream, Estellara is 3-5-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $91,035, including $27,500 for the Hastings victory. She is two-for-two at Emerald Downs including a $21,200 allowance win on April 24.
Ethan’s Baby, with Joe Steiner aboard at 119 lbs, paid $5.40 and $3.60. A 4-year-old Washington-bred by Offlee Wild-Hope and Vow, Ethan’s Baby is 2-5-0 in seven career starts at Emerald Downs, and 3-5-1 from 12 starts lifetime.
Citizen Kitty, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 lbs, finished third and paid $6 to show. Queen’s Rush, also owned by Barclay and trained by Kasmerski, finished fourth, and was followed by Among the Stars, Kikisoblu, Locket and Ronda Rocks.
The even-money favorite, Kikisoblu failed to show her customary speed and failed to threaten.
“You win the races leaving the gates,” jockey Rocco Bowen said. “I had to play the catch up game. It’s racing, hopefully it doesn’t happen again. I am going back to barn now to check the horse out, see how she came back. We’ll reload and come again.”
NOTES: Coach Royal ($11) picked up where he left off in 2015, rallying to defeat Man of Stature in Sunday’s ninth race for older $15,000 claimers. Voted Top Claimer in 2015, Coach Royal is five-for-seven since being claimed for $2,500 last year by trainer Howie Gibson and owners Jeff and Teresa Lynd . . .Sunshining produced a 44-1 stunner in race 10, second biggest win payoff of the meet. Original Avenue paid $92 to win on April 9. . .Not surprisingly, there are carryovers to Friday of $9,307 in the $0.50 Pick 5, and $15,156 in the $0.20 Pick 7. . .Trainer Robbie Baze and jockey Leslie Mawing connected for back-to-back wins with Bar Room Riot ($7.40) and Cash N Dash ($16.60) in Sunday’s fourth and fifth races. . . Erick Lopez also rode two winners Sunday, including his first Emerald Downs stakes victory. . .Live racing resumes Friday at 6:30 p.m.