Secretly Fast – the longest shot in the 11-horse field – rolled to a stunning gate-to-wire victory Sunday in the $59,670 Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge for Quarter Horses at Emerald Downs.
Ridden by Leonardo Gonzalez at 124 pounds, Secretly Fast covered 440 yards in 22.10 seconds and paid $123, $25 and $7.40. Ernesto Olmos is the winning trainer for owner Ernesto Ruiz of Auburn.
The winner had clear sailing throughout, avoiding some serious bumping and jostling from the inside, and prevailed by a head over Lebron 6.
“My horse felt really strong going to the gate,” Gonzalez said. “He broke well and said ‘bye-bye’ to everyone.”
A 4-year-old Oregon-bred gelding by No Secrets Here, Secretly Fast earned $26,852 to raise his career total to $38,796. Sunday’s race was his first since a sixth in a $10,000 handicap last December in Portland, and raised his overall record to 3-1-2 in 14 starts.
“We gave him six months off, and he’d been training very well,” Olmos said. “We said, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”
The $123 win mutuel is the largest of the meet and fifth largest in track history – Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses. It also broke No Giveaway’s stakes mark of $122 set in the 2005 Longacres Mile.
Lebron 6, the second-place finisher, was disqualified and placed last for veering out severely shortly after the break.
Los Alamitos shipper Air Force Won, the 1-to-2 betting favorite, was promoted from third to second, and L Bar D Genuine Red was promoted from fourth to third.
Defending champion Sorelli finished fifth, but was only beaten three heads and a nose for all the money.
Rounding out the official order of finish were Tic Tac Attack, Flyin Rocks, Jesses Claim Ta Fame, Separatefromdarest, Surf N Turf Dude, Gone Fast and Lebron 6.
In Sunday’s other Quarter Horse stakes:
In the $18,720 Distance Challenge, odds-on favorite Rare Ed overcame a poor start and scored a neck victory over Hes a Bugin, covering 870 yards in :45.82 seconds. Ridden by Osvaldo Gonzalez at 124 pounds, Rare Ed paid $2.80 and earned $9,360 for owner Martin Marin. A 6-year-old Illinois-bred trained by Roddina Barrett, Rare Ed has a career record of 6-9-5 in 30 starts with earnings of $102,797.
In the $20,160 John Deere Juvenile Challenge, Cm Boom Shakalaka drew clear for a one-length victory over I Deliver in :17.95 seconds for 350 yards. Ridden by Luis Gonzalez at 125 pounds for owner/breeder Randy Dickerson and trainer Nick Lowe, Cm Boom Shakalaka paid $6.40 as the favorite A 2-year-old Oregon-bred, the winner is 3-0-0 in four starts with earnings of $13,681.
Frank Lucarelli became the second trainer in Emerald Downs’ history with 900 wins as Grace Bay ($7.60) scored her maiden victory in Sunday’s fifth race. … Tim McCanna is No. 1 at Emerald Downs with 924 wins. … Betting On Dr Bow at $103.80 on June 18 was the previous high for a $2 win pay this season…Erick Lopez and Julien Couton rode two winners apiece Sunday. … Al & Sandee Kirkwood’s Blackjackcat scored a $19.60 upset in the $200,000 Del Mar Mile (G2) on the turf at Del Mar. … Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:30 p.m., including carryovers of $15,260 in the $0.20 Pick 7 and $10,063 in the $0.50 Pick 5.