Mike Man’s Gold could put the exclamation point on a dream season Sunday with a victory in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Washington Cup Day at Emerald Downs.
A relatively small field of five entered the 1 1/16-mile Classic, the traditional centerpiece of a six-stakes day that offers an aggregate $300,000 in purses for Washington-breds. But it’s a solid five, beginning with Mach One Rules and Dedicated to You, second and third-place finishers in the Longacres Mile, and The Press, who scored his biggest win while defeating Mach One Rules in the 2016 Washington Cup.
Handicappers, however, might be inclined to take a long look at Mike Man’s Gold, the graybeard of the field at age 7 and a veritable win machine at Emerald Downs, where his 16 wins are No. 1 among active horses.
Trained by Joe Toye and co-owned by Greg Conley, Chuck Conley and Terra Firma Farm, Mike Man’s Gold enters the Classic in peak form. He has shot up the claiming ranks with four straight wins under Rocco Bowen for tags of $10,000, $22,500, $20,000 and $40,000, earning Beyers of 89, 80, 82 and 85. In his lone start around two turns, Mike Man’s Gold raced to a gate-to-wire victory in 1:34.60 for a mile, flicking aside a useful horse named Remembertobreathe in the process.
Although his current owners claimed him for $15,000, Mike Man’s Gold is a four-time stakes winner at Emerald Downs and ran one of his best races while defeating Dare Me Devil in the 2014 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic. Mike Man’s Gold ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 and earned a career-high 93 Beyer.
“”Mike (Man’s Gold) has been very good to us,” co-owner Greg Conley said. “He seems to be getting stronger and faster as he gets older. The credit goes to Joe (Toye), the groom and everyone at the barn.”
Although Mike Man’s Gold was winless in two starts this winter at Turf Paradise, the time down there with Toye served a purpose.
“Turf Paradise was successful, not on the track but we were able to get him fit and ready to run,” Conley said. “While everyone was struggling with the weather up here, we came in with a sharp horse.”
Conley and father Chuck have been involved in racing for many years and even tried their hand at breeding, and were off to a good start with Polish Miner when their promising fledgling sire died suddenly in 2007. They deal mostly with claimers now, studying the Racing Form and consulting with Toye on potential claims.
“Joe’s eyeballs are very important to us,” Conley said.
• The Muckleshoot Tribal Classic is Race 9 at 6:09 p.m.
• The $50,000 WA Cup Juvenile Filly (Race 4, 3:36 p.m.) drew a field of eight led by Bella Mia, who could be the shortest priced horse in the WA Cup. By Harbor the Gold-Bella Campana, Belle Mia rides a three-race win streak including easy wins in both the Angie C and Barbara Shinpoch.
• The $50,000 WA Cup Juvenile Colts & Geldings (Race 5, 4:07 p.m.) drew nine and is one of the toughest races on the card. Elliott Bay, Sippin Fire and Brown Tiger, top three finishers in the WTBOA Lads, have a rematch at six furlongs, while Boundary Bay and Prime Copy invade from Canada for North American Thoroughbred Racing Co.
• The $50,000 WA Cup Sophomore Filly (Race 6, 4:38 p.m.) matches seven 3-year-old fillies at one mile. Retreat Yourself, second in the Kent Stakes and third in the Irish Day, would be difficult to beat if she reverts back to her early-season form.
• The $50,000 WA Cup Sophomore (Race 7, 5:09 p.m.) drew seven 3-year-olds at one mile. This is another tough race to figure, but Keller’s Gold (12-6-3-0-$66,954) merits respect based on a nose for the winner’s circle, and he did fire a good second around two turns in a stakes at Portland Meadows.
• The $50,000 WA Cup Filly & Mare (Race 8, 5:39 p.m.) could be a coronation for Citizen Kitty, the meet’s only three-time stakes winner and 5-2-0 in her last seven starts at Emerald Downs.The field for the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic with jockeys and weight: 1-The Press, Javier Matias, 124 pounds; 2-Mike Man’s Gold, Rocco Bowen, 122; 3-Hit the Beach, Kevin Orozco, 118; 4-Mach One Rules, Isaias Enriquez, 124; 5-Dedicated to You, Leonel Camacho-Flores, 118.
Stryker Phd retired, will be honored Sunday
Stryker Phd, one of the greatest racehorses in Washington history is officially retired, assistant trainer Sharon Ross said.
Suffering from a foot abscess, the three-time Washington Horse of the Year and two-time Longacres Mile winner was not entered in Sunday’s $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic, which was to have been his final career race.
Instead, the 8-year-old gelding will be honored with a special retirement ceremony between races Sunday, and will parade one final time down the Emerald Downs stretch.
Owned by Jim and Mona Hour of Bellevue, the Bertrando gelding won 11 of 33 starts and earned $631,011 — third highest figure all-time among Washington-breds. He reeled off eight straight stakes wins at Emerald Downs between 2013 and 2015, topped by victories in the 2014 and 2015 Longacres Mile. He is the only two-time winner of the Mile at Emerald Downs, and one of only four multiple winners of the Northwest’s most important race.
Stryker Phd was unanimously voted Emerald Downs’ Horse of the Meeting in 2014 and 2015, and Washington Horse of the Year in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He also is the only Washington-bred to win as graded race three consecutive years (2014-2016).
“I don’t exactly know what to say about Stryker,” Sharon Ross said. “It was a great ride and he is one of the best we have been fortunate enough to train. He will stay at the track for a while and let down and be spoiled. After that he will come out to our farm and enjoy some paddock time.”
Had he raced Sunday, Stryker Phd would have been bidding for his fourth win in the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic.
Washington Hall of Fame ceremony Sunday
The newest members of the 2017 Washington Hall of Fame will officially be inducted prior to Sunday’s Washington Cup Day card at Emerald Downs.
Noosa Beach (Male Horse), Marion L. Smith (trainer), Frederick & Debbie Pabst (breeder) and Dr. Mark Dedomenico (Lifetime Achievement) will be honored by the winner’s circle, including special video presentations of each winner.