For the Reporter
Blaine Wright, who led all trainers with 11 stakes wins last year, will be front and center when stakes action begins at Emerald Downs.
Wright sends out Bella Mia in the $50,000 Seattle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. The Seattle, which drew a field of seven, is the first of 29 stakes to be run in 2018 and season debut for Bella Mia, state and track champion 2-year-old filly of 2017.
Owned by John and Janene Maryanski of Auburn, the Washington-bred daughter of Harbor the Gold-Bella Campana was virtually untouchable while reeling off four straight wins last year, including triumphs in the Angie C Stakes, Barbara Shinpoch and Washington Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her overall mark is 4-0-0 in five starts with earnings of $91,523.
Bella Mia boasts a strong series of workouts for her return, including a bullet six furlongs in 1:10 4/5 from the gate on May 6.
Wright’s 11 stakes wins last year were just one off the track record set by Doris Harwood in 2007 and 2009. The 43-year-old trainer also has built a strong stable of runners at Golden Gate, and has stakes action this weekend in California and Canada: Bronze Warrior, owned by Joe and Lola Sample, runs in Sunday’s $75,000 Alcatraz for 3-year-olds at one mile turf at Golden Gate, and Alliford Bay, owned by Peter Redekop, is 6-5 in Monday’s $50,000 Vancouver Sun for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs at Hastings Racecourse.
Diamonds R and Brilliant Bird, first and second-place finishers in a May 5 allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs, have something that Bella Mia does not–a race over the track this season.
Spot On and Ima Happy Cat both jump from maiden special weight victories into stakes company. Spot On is a full sister to Find Your Spot, state champion 3-year-old filly of 2014, and Ima Happy Cat is out of a dam, Infernal McGoon, track and state champion older filly or mare of 2004.
Stay in Grace, a double stakes winner at Portland Meadows, and Gold Supply, runner-up to Spot On last month, add depth to the field.
Stakes action gets rolling in earnest over the Memorial Day weekend. The $50,000 Auburn Stakes tests 3-year-old at six furlongs on Sunday, May 27, and the $50,000 Hastings Stakes for older fillies and mares at six furlongs is Monday, May 28.
The field for the $50,000 Seattle Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, six furlongs: 1-Stay in Grace, Gary Wales, 116 pounds; 2-Ima Happy Cat, Rocco Bowen, 118; 3-Spot On, Austin Solis, 116; 4-Diamonds R, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 116; 5-Brilliant Bird, Kevin Orozco, 116; 6-Bella Mia, Julien Couton, 120; 7-Gold Supply, Alex Anaya, 116.
Saturday, May 19
2 p.m. (8 races)
Preakness 3:48 p.m.
Sunday, May 20
2 p.m. (9 races)
$50,000 Seattle Stakes
Exotic Animal Races (After Races 4, 5, 6)
Notes: Betting favorites are only 5-42 the last two weeks (11.9%), and odds-on favorite are only 5-17 (29.4) this season…There are 951 horses on the grounds, up 22 from last week and down 18 from the same day last year. … Rocco Bowen has at least one on all eight cards to date, and began the week with an eight-win lead atop the jockeys’ standings … Daytona Beach goes for his second straight win at the meet and fourth straight victory overall in Saturday’s featured seventh race at 6½ furlongs for 3-year-olds and up which have started for a claiming price of $10,000 or less in 2017 or 2018. The eight-horse field also includes Iron Rob, Thorn Legacy, Twirling Cinnamon, Mixo, There’s No Doubt, Alley Boss and Royal Privacy. … The Budweiser Clydesdales will be on the track for a 10-minute showing immediately following Saturday’s simulcast of the Preakness Stakes. The Preakness will be between races 4 and 5 at Emerald Downs, with post time 3:48 p.m.