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Stryker Phd doing great after Mile victory, could defend title in Muckleshoot Classic | Emerald Downs

Stryker Phd and jockey Leslie Mawing moments after victory in the 79th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) at Emeerald Downs. - Courtesy photo/Reed Palmer, Emerald Downs
Stryker Phd and jockey Leslie Mawing moments after victory in the 79th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) at Emeerald Downs.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Reed Palmer, Emerald Downs

For the Reporter

Assistant trainer Sharon Ross said Stryker Phd emerged from the Longacres Mile in great shape and returned to the track Thursday morning for exercise.

"He's acting like a monster, bucking, playing and squealing," Ross said. "He came out of the race great."

In upping his 2014 record to 3-3-0-0 with earnings of $165,000, Stryker Phd rallied from last to edge California shipper Boyett by a half-length in 1:33.67. Stryker Phd equaled his career-high with a 97 Beyer while Boyett earned a career-high 96.

A 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Bertrando-Striking Scholar, Stryker Phd could run in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Sunday, Sept. 7. In fact, Stryker Phd is the defending champion, winning last year's Classic race by 3¼ lengths in 1:40.99.

However, last year there were three weeks between the Longacres Mile and the Washington Cup, this year there are only two. Nominations close 3 p.m. Saturday.

"I'll urge Larry (Ross) to at least nominate," Sharon Ross said. "At least we would keep our options open."

Voted Emerald Downs' Top Washington-bred last year, Stryker Phd seems certain to repeat that honor this year, and also is a slam-dunk for Top Handicap Horse. As for Horse of the Meeting, it's a two-horse race between Stryker Phd and Stopshoppingdebbie.

Stopshoppingdebbie caps glorious 2-year run

By sweeping the top three places in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff, Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie capped an unprecedented two-year run of success for the three Northwest Farms' fillies.

A 4-year-old by Curlin, Stopshoppingdebbie ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.45 and earned a career-high 88 Beyer in the Distaff. With her three-quarter-length victory over Goin to the Window, Stopshoppingdebbie improved to 9-for-9 and set a track record with her eighth consecutive stakes win, one better than Ropersandwranglers in 1996-97.

With Blueberry Smoothie finishing third, it marked the seventh time in two seasons that Stopshoppingdebbie, Goin to the Window and Blueberry Smoothie took down the top three placings for trainer Tom Wenzel and owner Northwest Farms. The only exception was May 11 in the Hastings Handicap, when Madame Pele finished second and Blueberry Smoothie and Goin to the Window settled for third and fourth place.

In terms of money won, the Northwest Farms fillies have earned $381,900 of the $430,000 offered in their races the last two years, or 89 percent of the purse money. As 3-year-olds, they earned $194,650 of $215,000, and as 4-year-olds earned $187,250 of $215,000.

California, here she comes

Next stop for Stopshoppingdebbie is Santa Anita Park, where the undefeated 4-year-old Curlin filly will prep for a possible start in the Breeders' Cup.

If all goes well, trainer Tom Wenzel said Stopshoppingdebbie would run in either the $300,000 Zenyatta (Grade 1) at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, Saturday, Sept. 27, or $100,000 LA Woman (G3) at 6½ furlongs on dirt, Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Zenyatta is a prep for the $2,000,000 Breeders' Cup Distaff on Friday, Oct. 31, while the LA Woman is a prep for the $1,000,000 Filly & Mare Sprint on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Chicks Special Angel can make amends Sunday

For the second straight year, Chicks Special Angel heads into Sunday's $60,000 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge with a winning streak.

And for the second straight year, the 6-year-old mare will be heavily favored in the 440-yard dash, the classic distance for Quarter Horses 3-year-olds and up.

This time, however, Chicks Special Angel hopes to pull off the victory after a devastating defeat in the 2013 race. Bet down to 3-to-5 with a 10-race winning streak on the line, Chicks Special Angel proved there are no sure things in horse racing. A costly start nullified all hopes of capturing the B of A crown, despite a gallant rally to finish fourth and only one length back from winner Vodka With Ice. As a result, Vodka With Ice, qualified for the $350,000 AQHA Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos, where he scored a 17-to-1 upset.

Sunday, Chicks Special Angel looks to punch her ticket to Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, this year's host of $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship on October 17. She comes in with three straight wins and the fastest qualifying time of 21.84. Trained by Juan Sanguino for brother Miguel Sanguino, Chicks Special Angel is 14-for-21 lifetime including 3-for-4 at Emerald Downs.

However, according to Ed Burgart, track announcer and morning-line maker at Los Alamitos, Chicks Special Angel has a formidable foe in 6-year-old gelding Ambush Alley. The third fastest qualifier in 22.04, Ambush Alley has raced in multiple Grade 3 events and on July 19, ran what Burgart called "one of the most impressive wins" he's seen at Los Alamitos this season.

"Ambush Alley was a monster here earlier this year," Burgart said. "He ran the fastest 330-yard race we've had at the meet.

"Then, the third-place finisher (Solid Connection) came back to win a trial for the Governor's Cup Derby."

Furthermore, Burgart seems unfazed by the added 110 yards Ambush Alley will need to run on Sunday.

"He was just super impressive and I even think the further the better," he said. "When he was younger, he had a little trouble breaking from the gate, but he seems to have that all figured out now."

Trained and owned by Eloy Mendoza, Ambush Ally is the field's only six-digit purse earner and sports a 3-2-1-0 record in 2014.

Qualifying times: Chicks Special Angel, 21.84; Alota Action, 21.93; Ambush Alley, 22.04; Eagle B Gone, 22.05; Lil Bitts a Dash, 22.18; Rogue County, 22.35; One Famous Secret, 22.37; Hyho Travio, 22.44; Veyron, 22.64.

The field for the Bank of America Emerald Downs Championship Challenge, from the rail, out: Eagle B Gone, Luis Gonzalez, 122 pounds; Lil Bitts a Dash, Antonio Alberto, 124; Rogue County, Jose Zunino, 124; Chicks Special Angel, Eddie Aceves, 124; Ambush Ally, Rodolfo Arvizu, 124; Hyho Travio, Kassie Guglielmino, 122; Alota Action, Martin Arriaga, 124; One Famous Secret, Never Marin, 124; Veyron, Leonardo Gonzalez, 124.

• The Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge is Race 9 at 6:22 p.m.

• Shorty Martin, racing secretary at Les Bois Park, will present the winning trophy on behalf of the American Quarter Horse Association.

• The $13,500 Zoetis Emerald Starter Challenge is Race 10 at 6:48 p.m. At 350 yards, the Zoetis is for Quarter Horses 3-year-olds and up who have started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in the last 12 months.

No races Friday; Monday special card

No live racing this Friday, but Labor Day weekend still features three days of live racing at Emerald Downs – 2 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. Monday.

After this week, only 12 days of live racing remain in the season: Friday, Sept. 5, 6:45 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 6, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 7, 2 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 12, 6:45 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 13, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 19, 6:45 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 20, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 21, 2 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 26, 6:45 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 27, 2 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 28, 2 p.m.

Notes

Weekly honors: Jockey – Leslie Mawing; Trainer – Larry Ross; Owner – Jim & Mona Hour; Groom – Oscar Mariscal (Tom Wenzel); Washington-bred – Stryker Phd. ... With nine stakes wins, Mawing has tied the fifth highest single-season total in track history. And with eight stakes remaining, he could threaten the record of 13 stakes wins set by Gallyn Mitchell in 2000. ... Mawing has all but clinched his second Emerald Downs' riding title, owning an 81-61 lead over Rocco Bowen with 15 days left. ... Mawing has been a picture of consistency, riding 27 percent wins in routes, 23 percent in sprints, 26 percent with 2-year-olds, 24 percent with 3-year-olds and 25 percent with older horses. ... In the trainers' race, Jeff Metz appears destined for a second straight title with a 45-34 lead over five-time EmD champion Frank Lucarelli. ... Illumination Road, runner-up to Del Rio Harbor in the 2013 Emerald Express, makes his 2014 debut in Sunday's fourth race for $25,000 maiden/optional claimers at six furlongs. ... Beginning Sunday and throughout the remainder of the season, Emerald Downs Live on CSN airs 2-6 p.m. Sunday. The switch from Saturday's is due to the start of the college football season. ... Saturday's featured eighth race is a $32,000 claimer for older fillies and mares at 6½ furlongs. Spot On Babe, 3-2-0 in five starts at the meet, faces Havasu Falls, Beautranda, Stephanie Plum, Hetty and Tabled With Gold. ... Entries for Monday's Labor Day card will be drawn Friday. ... Governor's Handicap winner Why Not Be Perfect is entered in a $32,000 claiming race Sunday at Golden Gate Fields, with regular rider Anne Sanguinetti up for Metz. ... Longacres Mile nominee Blue Tone is the 9-to-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $90,000 Harry F. Brubaker at one mile on Polytrack at Del Mar. ... Vodka With Ice, winner of last year's Bank of America Emerald Downs Championship Challenge, scored a one-length victory in the $81,000 Les Bois Championship Challenge Aug. 9 in Boise. Vodka With Ice ran in the first three EmD Challenge races, finishing second, third and first. ... Snowbound Superchick, runner-up to Vodka With Ice, in last year's Emerald Downs Championship Challenge, runs in Saturday's $7,050 Redds Apple Ale at Elko, Nevada.

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