There appears to be no shortage of older fillies and mares this season at Emerald Downs.
Last month’s Hastings Stakes drew a field of nine older fillies and mares and Sunday’s $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes went one better, drawing a field of 10 including seven stakes winners. At 6½ furlongs, the Washington State Legislators is the final sprint of the four-race series.
Sue and Tim Spooner’s Ima Happy Cat, gate to wire winner of the Hastings, drew the No. 4 post and carries high weight of 123 pounds Sunday. Trained by Dan Markle, the 4-year-old Smiling Tiger filly has raced in sharp form all year, compiling a 3-2-0 record from six starts and earning $101,816.
Exploding from the gate in the Hastings, Ima Happy Cat quickly opened a 3½-length lead while running fractions of :21.48 and :43.63. Although she tired slightly late, Ima Happy Cat held sway by one length in 1:08.73. She now has wins this year on dirt and synthetic surfaces, and also is stakes-placed on turf.
Bella Mia, Dontkissntell, Paddy’s Secret, Best of Me, Always Enuff and No Talking Back – second through seventh in the Hastings – are all back for another crack in the Washington State Legislators Stakes.
The consistent Bella Mia came from slightly off the pace to finish second in the Hastings, but was disqualified for drifting out and causing interference past mid stretch. Nevertheless, she’s 5-3-1 in 11 lifetime starts with earnings of $151,323.
Dontkissntell, promoted from third to second in the Hastings, is 3-3-0 in six starts at Emerald Downs, including a victory and two seconds in stakes races. A 4-year-old Rosberg filly, she performs well in sprints and routes.
Paddy’s Secret finished fourth and was placed third in the Hastings, and another who is capable sprinting and routing. She’s a double stakes winner at Turf Paradise, including an 89 Beyer in the six-furlong Princess Of Palms Stakes.
Best of Me, fourth as the favorite in the Hastings, lost her best chance in the Bella Mia mishap in the stretch. Her previous out, an allowance win over Bella Mia, was impressive.
Summer Storm ships in from Churchill Downs and was a steady sprinter this year in Kentucky and Arkansas. A 4-year-old Majesticperfection filly Summer Storm finished first, second or third in four of five starts while earning over $63,000.
Always Enuff was competitive against allowance types at Oaklawn this spring, but broke a step slow and finished sixth in her return to Emerald Downs in the Hastings. Diamonds R, upset winner of the 2018 Irish Days Stakes, adds blinkers after finishing ninth in the Hastings, while No Talking Back tries to rediscover her good form of a year ago which included a victory in the Fan Appreciation Day Overnight Stakes.
Foggia is a $1,500 supplemental nomination for owner Tim Bankers and trainer Manny Ortiz. A 4-year-old Rocky Bar filly, Foggia defeated $10,000 claimers by 4½ lengths in 1:09.09 for six furlongs on May 31.
• Blaine Wright, who leads all trainers with three stakes wins, saddles Bella Mia, Always Enuff and Best of Me. Alliford Bay, trained by Wright, won the 2018 Washington State Legislators in 1:14.86.
• Trainer Tom Wenzel has a record three wins in the Washington State Legislators including a stakes record 1:14.20 by Stopshoppingdebbie in 2914. He sends out Dontkissntell and Diamonds R in this year’s race.
• Sire Smiling Tiger already has three stakes wins at the meet: Baja Sur (2), Ima Happy Cat (1).
The field for the 24th running of the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Stakes: 1-Bella Mia, Juan Gutierrez, 119 pounds; 2-Best of Me, Franklin Ceballos, 119; 3-Diamonds R, Patrick Henry Jr., 119; 4-Ima Happy Cat, Gary Wales, 123; 5-Always Enuff, Kevin Orozco, 119; 6-Paddy’s Secret, Javier Matias, 117; 7-Summer Storm, Jorge Carreno, 117; 8-Foggia (s), Heribert Martinez, 119; 9-Dontkissntell, Ryan Barber, 119; 10-No Talking Back, Jose Zunino, 117. (s) supplemental nomination
Racing this week
Friday, June 21
6:30 p.m. (7 races)
Saturday, June 22
5 p.m. (8 races)
Food Truck Festival
Sunday, June 23
2 p.m. (10 races)
$50,000 Wash State Legislators S (3&UP F&M 6½ F)
Food Truck Festival
E Z Star Maker and Stay in Grace both seek their thirds win if the meet in Friday’s feature race for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. … Washington Hall of Fame trainer Larry Ross celebrates his 67th birthday Friday. … Speaking of birthdays, Emerald Downs celebrates its 23rd birthday Thursday. On 20, 1996, Strawberry Morn led gate to wire for a 10-length victory in the $35,000 U.S. Bank Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.To date, 17,677 races have been run at Emerald Downs. … 15 trucks are expected to partake in the Food Truck Festival this Saturday and Sunday at Emerald Downs.