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Off and running: 19th season to open with big fields, good weather | Emerald Downs
For the Reporter
The weather and the racing should be good Saturday when Emerald Downs begins its 19th season of live racing with a 10-race card at 2 p.m.
Following record rainfall in March, the weather gods have been much kinder in April, with Saturday's forecast calling for temperatures in the low 60s with virtually no chance of rain. Things look even better for Sunday, Day 2 of the 75-day meeting, with a 100 percent chance of sunshine and a high near 75 degrees. That's a fine forecast for mid-April near Seattle.
As for racing, horsemen responded with 70 entrants in the 10 races worth over $105,000 in purses, a respectable seven horses per event, including several deep and talented fields.
The third race, a $25,000 claiming event for 3-year-old non-winners of two races, features eight evenly matched runners including several that ran in stakes last year as 2-year-olds. Moony Moony, from the barn of 10-time training champion Tim McCanna, finished runner-up to the extremely fast Dallon's Gold in the Cahill Road Stakes on closing day, while He's Zuberrific had the early lead in the WTBOA Lads Stakes won by champion Del Rio Harbor.
Race four, a $17,850 maiden special weight for fillies and mares, has several top prospects including first-time starter Jeweloftheharbor, the first foal out of $151,000 earner Carrie's a Jewel, and Timeless Pleasure, a half-sister to $400,000 earner Puxa Saco from the powerhouse Northwest Farms/Tom Wenzel stable.
Race five, a $25,000 claimer for older fillies and mares, features Stephanie Plum, aiming for her third straight win on opening day (she paid $15.20 in 2012, $11.20 in 2013) and the cat-quick River of Aces, 5-1-1 in 11 starts at Emerald Downs.
The featured ninth race, an $18,900 allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs, marks the return of Ron Crockett's 6-year-old gelding Camp Granada. Trained by Frank Lucarelli and ridden by defending riding champion Isaias Enriquez, Camp Granada is 3-2-0 in seven starts at Emerald Downs and defeated 2013 Top Sprinter Polish Dollar at 6½ furlongs last July.
Mawing ready for Emerald title run
After a year's absence, the 2011 riding champion is back at Emerald Downs.
Leslie Mawing, one of Emerald Downs' top riders the last decade, packed his tack last week at Golden Gate and shipped to Auburn in preparation for Saturday's season-opening card.
Absent during the 2013 meet, Mawing looks to return to his riding form of 2011 and 2012, when he combined to ride 226 winners including the 2011 title.
Today, the South Africa native is five wins away from joining the exclusive 500-win club at Emerald Downs, and needs seven wins to surpass Ben Russell for No. 6 on the track's all-time list.
Mawing hoped to ride at Emerald Downs last year, but a lingering rotator cuff injury forced him to the sidelines.
"I had my surgery in February last year, and I wasn't released by my doctor until June." Mawing said. "By then, Emerald was already in the middle of the meet, so I went to the California fair meets and then to Golden Gate. I was making pretty good money, but I wasn't having any fun being so far away from my family."
A 40-year-old father of three, Mawing and his family reside in Boise, Idaho, where he rode his first winner at Les Bois Park in 1994. With his home's proximity to Emerald Downs and his familiarity with the local oval, the decision to come back was easy.
"I have good business up here and I know a lot of the barns," Mawing said. "Being a seasoned vet, I can adjust a little easier now. There are some good riders up here, but I'm the veteran. I hope the stars are aligned and I'll win another title."
Mawing has 2,118 career wins, including career win No. 2,000 here on August 9, 2012. The victory was even more special as wife Catherine, sons Aidan and Dominic, and daughter Jade all were in the winner's circle after Mawing rode Grand Baylee to the milestone victory.
Stakes-placed Strawberry Dawn returns Sunday
One of the track's better 2-year-old fillies of 2013, Strawberry Dawn makes her 2014 debut Sunday when she takes on four other talented sophomore fillies in an $18,900 allowance race at 5½ furlongs.
Running under the strawberry-logo silks of Olympia residents Sue and Tim Spooner, Strawberry Dawn kept company with the track's best 2-year-old fillies last year, winning her career debut by 2½ lengths, and running second to Top Juvenile Filly Chu and You in both the Angie C Stakes and the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes.
A Spooner homebred by Tribal Rule-Ruby Dawn, Strawberry Dawn has trained well according to trainer Dan Markle.
"That little filly's doing really well," he said. "She went an easy six furlongs (in 1:14 2/5) last week to get ready, plus she's won fresh off the bench before."
The Spooners are among Emerald Downs' most successful owners, ranking No. 2 in all-time wins with 156 and No. 3 in earnings with $1,766,167.
The field for Sunday's $18,900 feature race, all carrying 118 pounds (from the rail, out): See My Tail Lites, Eliska Kubinova; Strawberry Dawn, Felipe Valdez; Charismata, Isaias Enriquez; K K's Wonderwoman, Juan Gutierrez; Simba's Sis, Leslie Mawing.
Nelson Family Racing's 4-year-old Disruption breezed five furlongs in a bullet :58 under jockey Rocco Bowen Thursday, and the gelding adds depth to the track's older handicap division. A Florida-bred by Street Boss-Disrupt, Disruption chipped a knee while finishing second in last year's Auburn Handicap and is 2-3-0 in six career starts. Monique Snowden now trains the strapping chestnut. ... Defending training champion Jeff Metz has nine horses entered on Saturday's 10-race card including multiple entrants in races two and four. ... Jockey Anne Sanguinetti is back in action Saturday at Emerald Downs. The 33-year-old rider sustained a fractured vertebra last September, but resumed riding last month and got her first win back aboard the Metz-trained Just Meteor at Turf Paradise. Sanguinetti and Metz combined for 26 wins last season at Emerald Downs, and team up Saturday with Reflective Glory in race two and Camp Pendleton in race six. ...
Why Not Be Perfect, sixth in the 2013 Longacres Mile, is back in training with Metz, breezing three furlongs in :36 1/5 Tuesday. ... Metz also said 2013 WTBOA Horse of the Year E Z Kitty, a triple stakes winner last season, is in foal to Exchange Rate ... The promising 3-year-old gelding Illumination Road is back in training, logging a three-furlong breeze in :37 Tuesday for trainer Terry Gillihan. A Washington-bred gelding owned and bred by Ron Maus' Buffalo Stables, Illumination Road made just one start as a 2-year-old, but it was a beauty, a runner-up finish to champion Del Rio Harbor in the Emerald Express. ... With 50 horses on the grounds, Frank Lucarelli, No. 2 all-time with 758 wins at Emerald Downs, appears ready to challenge for his sixth local training title. Lucarelli has trained three of the last four claimers of the meet, including 2013 Top Claimer Kind of Naughty, who worked four furlongs in :48 Thursday. Lucarelli also has horses in California, and won last month's $200,000 Santa Ana Handicap (G2) with Stormy Lucy, a 5-year-old mare who subsequently was sold to Steve Moger. With Ed Moger Jr. training, Stormy Lucy runs Sunday in the $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita.