Of all the year-end honors, Top Claimer figures to be among the most hotly contested categories of 2017.
Two of the top contenders for the award, Rockport Birdie and Wine At Nine, are both in action this weekend at Emerald Downs.
Rockport Birdie, the meet’s only six-time winner, is the 3-1 morning line favorite in Sunday’s ninth race for $5,000 claiming fillies and mares at one mile. A victory would mean a seven-race winning streak, and she also would finish the season No. 1 in wins – traditionally a big factor for winning the Top Claimer award.
Wine At Nine, 5-1-1 in seven starts at the meet, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $13,000 starter allowance for 3-year-olds and up at one mile. It marks the first route test this year for the $5-year-old Divine Park gelding, 7-2-1 in his last 10 starts here beginning with a victory in a rock-bottom $2,500 claimer in August 2016.
Incidentally, Vince Gibson trains both Rockport Birdie and Wine At Nine, so excuse him if he takes a pass on choosing between the two. The actual voting is up to track personnel, officials and media.
Other top contenders for Top Claimer:
Exit Sixty Slew: 5-0-1 in six starts, beginning with a victory vs. $8,000 claimers and culminating with a triumph over 2-5 favorite Citizen Kitty in the Washington Cup Filly or Mare.
Emmett Park: 4-4-0-0 in four starts. 6-year-old gelding capped a perfect season with a last-to-first victory for a $40,000 claiming price last week. Beyers this season of 87, 87, 78 and 87.
Mike Man’s Gold: 4-0-2 in six starts, reeled off four straight wins beginning in the $10,000 claiming ranks and ending with a victory vs. $40,000 optional claimers. Also finished a close third in the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic.
Jerre to Carrie: 4-0-0 in five starts, and goes for win No. 5 in Saturday’s eighth race vs. $40,000 claiming fillies and mares.
Image of Truth: 4-1-0 in 11 starts at the meet, goes for win No. 5 in Sunday’s fourth race for $5,000 claimers.
Maurice Code: 4-0-0 in five starts, reeling off four straight wins in the $7,500-$20,000 range.
Oh Marvelous Me: 4-0-2 in six starts, one of four on this list trained by Blaine Wright.
Party Pooper: 4-0-0 in seven starts, hard-hitting 5-year-old has seven wins here the last two seasons.
Blaine Wright needs just $933 in earnings to have the second highest total in track history. Doris Harwood with $931,916 in 2009 is No. 1 followed by Jim Penney with $793,760 in 2005 and Wright with $792,827. … Wright has three horses entered this weekend including Washington Cup Sophomore Stakes winner Pulpits Power in Sunday’s $21,000 allowance feature for 3-year-olds. … The following horses are all four-time winners this season for Wright: Bella Mia, Emmett Park, Maurice Code and Oh Marvelous Me, and Exit Sixty Slew and First Heritage have each won three races. … Wright also has been red-hot with jockeys Julien Couton (17-39), Kevin Orozco (13-27) and Eswan Flores (7-11). … Recent allowance winner and Emerald Downs Derby fourth-place finisher Monydontspenitself will be shipped to trainer Mark Glatt in California, trainer Kay Cooper said. … The richest racehorse in Washington history – Heza Dasha Fire – continued his winning ways recently at Los Alamitos. Owned by Don and Kathy Meneely of Kennewick, Heza Dasha Fire rolled to a 1¾-length victory in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap and now has career earnings of $1,989,237. A 5-year-old gelding by Walk Thru Fire-Dasha Freda, Heza Dasha Fire is 14-4-0 in 19 starts with eight stakes wins.