SLEW’S TIZ WHIZ 2023 HORSE OF MEETING,
ALEX CRUZ WINS FOURTH STRAIGHT TITLE
AUBURN, Wash. (Sept. 19, 2023) – Slew’s Tiz Whiz and Alex Cruz both shined bright at Emerald Downs in 2023, both earning multiple awards and titles as the track wrapped up its 28th season of live racing Sunday.
Slew’s Tiz Whiz was voted 2023 Horse of the Meeting, becoming the 18th Washington-bred to win the award and joining Stryker Phd (2014-15) and Noosa Beach (2010-11) as the only repeat winners of the season’s top award. In addition, the 5-year-old Slew’s Tiznow gelding took honors as Top Washington-bred, Top Older Horse, led the meet in earnings, $83,000, and tied Clovisconnection, Appeal Factor, Aloha Breeze, and Blazingbellablu for most stakes wins with two apiece.
Conditioned by Tom Wenzel, owned by Slew’s Crew Racing, and ridden by Jose Zunino, Slew’s Tiz Whiz won stakes short and long, winning the 6 ½ furlong Governor’s and 1 1/16-mile Muckleshoot Tribal Classic, while adding a second in the six-furlong Budweiser and a third to Five Star General in the Longacres Mile to his impressive resume.
Alex Cruz accomplished Emerald Downs history, becoming the first jockey to win four straight titles at the Auburn track—riding 69 winners in 52 days while finishing 14 clear of runner-up Luis Negron. In fact, the 29-year-old native of Puerto Rico became the first rider in state history with four consecutive titles at the same track, eclipsing Rocco Bowen (Emerald Downs 2016-18), Gary Boulanger (Longacres 1989-91), Gary Baze (Longacres 1973-75), and Robert Howg (Yakima Meadows (1975-77).
Cruz was also first in earnings, $1,016,128, and the only jockey to win five races on a card (Aug. 6) and was voted the Lindy Award for sportsmanship and accomplishment by his fellow riders.
In the trainers’ ranks, Justin Evans enjoyed a tremendous first season, capturing the title with 49 wins and finishing 18 clear of Blaine Wright and 19 ahead of defending titlist Jorge Rosales. Evans also finished first in earnings ($558,850), was the meet’s leading owner (21 wins), and became the first trainer to sweep titles at Turf Paradise and Emerald Downs in the same year.
Clovisconnection turned in dazzling efforts in the Auburn Stakes (6F/1:07.59) and Irish Day Stakes (6 ½ F/1:14.73) and took honors as the meet’s Top 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding and Top Sprinter for trainer Blaine Wright and owner/breeder William Hedrick.
In addition to Slew’s Tiz Whiz, Wenzel conditioned a pair of champions for owner George Todaro. Aloha Breeze rattled off three brilliant sprint victories including daylight scores in the Seattle Stakes and Kent Stakes and was voted Top 3-Year-Old Filly. Miner League closed out his juvenile season with two straight wins for Wenzel, Todaro, and jockey Carlos Montalvo, rolling from off the pace to prevail in the Gottstein Futurity on closing day.
Blazingbellablu was a study in consistency, posting a 2-2-0 record in four starts, including wins in the Hastings Stakes and Washington Cup Filly & Mare Stakes, and is the Top Older Filly or Mare for trainer Charles Essex and Petra Lewin.
Oak Crest Farm homebred Appeal Factor dazzled in two starts for trainer David Martinez—sweeping the Angie C Stakes and WTBOA Lassies Stakes—and was unanimously voted Top 2-Year-Old Filly.
Dirt Road Red, the meet’s only five-time winner, was voted Top Claimer, and the $150,000 Longacres Mile won by Five Star General was Race of the Meeting.
Harbor the Gold, for the 11th time in 13 years, was Leading Sire and is No. 1 all-time with 493 wins at Emerald Downs.
Emerald Downs 2023 Season Honors
Horse of the Meeting: Slew’s Tiz Whiz
Top Washington-bred: Slew’s Tiz Whiz
Top Older Horse: Slew’s Tiz Whiz
Top Older Filly or Mare: Blazingbellablu
Top 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding: Clovisconnection
Top 3-Year-Old Filly: Aloha Breeze
Top 2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding: Miner League
Top 2-Year-Old Filly: Appeal Factor
Top Sprinter: Clovisconnection
Top Claimer: Dirt Road Red
Race of Meeting: Longacres Mile (Five Star General)
Leading Jockey Wins: Alex Cruz, 69
Leading Jockey Stakes Wins: Carlos Montalvo, 4; Jose Zunino, 4
Leading Jocker Earnings: Alex Cruz, $1,016,128
Leading Trainer: Justin Evans, 49
Leading Trainer Stakes Wins: Tom Wenzel, 7
Leading Trainer Earnings: Justin Evans, $558,850; Blaine Wright $558,704
Leading Owner: Justin Evans, 21
Leading Owner Earnings: Justin Evans, $208,770
Leading Horse Wins: Dirt Road Red, 5
Leading Horse Stakes Wins: Aloha Breeze, 2; Appeal Factor, 2; Blazingbellablu, 2; Clovisconnection, 2; Slew’s Tiz Whiz, 2
Leading Horse Earnings: Slew’s Tiz Whiz, $83,000; Five Star General, $82,500
Top Riding Achievement: Alex Cruz first rider in Emerald Downs and Washington history to win four straight titles
Top Training Achievement: Justin Evans dominant first season at Emerald Downs, capturing title by 18 wins
Martin Durkan Award: Jill Soranno, Howie Gibson
Lindy Aliment Award: Alex Cruz
Leading Sire Wins: Harbor The Gold, 17
Jockeys’ Valet of the Year: Al Padilla
Emerald Downs Horse of the Meeting
2023-Slew’s Tiz Whiz (WA)
2022– Slew’s Tiz Whiz (WA)
2021-Top Executive (KY)
2018-Sippin Fire (WA)
2017-Mach One Rules (WA)
2016-O B Harbor (ORE)
2015-Stryker Phd (WA)
2014-Stryker Phd (WA)
2013-Herbie D (BC)
2012-Class Included (KY)
2011-Noosa Beach (WA)
2010-Noosa Beach (WA)
2007-The Great Face (WA)
2005-No Giveaway (WA)
2004-Demon Warlock (WA)
2002-Flying Notes (KY)
2001-Makors Mark (WA)
1999-No Curfew (WA)
1998-Wild Wonder (KY)
1997-Kid Katabatic (BC)
1996-Name for Norm (WA)