Best of Me shook off resilient stable mate Bella Mia and scored a one-length victory in the $21,500 Muckleshoot Casino Purse for older fillies and mares Sunday at Emerald Downs.
With Franklin Ceballos riding his third winner Sunday, Best of Me ran 5½ furlongs in a meet-fastest 1:02.04, and paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.20. Blaine Wright saddled the winner for owners Todd and Shawn Hansen of Tenino.
Bella Mia, also trained by Wright, was easily second and paid $2.80 and $2.40. A four-time Emerald Downs’ stakes winner, Bella Mia set fractions of :22.03 and :44.60, yielded command into the lane and fought on bravely to the wire.
It was five lengths back to Diamonds R, ridden by Patrick Henry Jr., and a $3.40 show payoff. No Talking Back, Little Dancer and Racy Rascal completed the order of finish.
Based on Sunday’s performance, Best of Me tipped her hand as a top contender for the $50,000 Hastings Stakes on Memorial Day. A 4-year-old by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, her overall record is 3-0-1 in seven starts with earnings of $106,280 including $11,825 for Sunday’s victory. Her previous wins were both at Santa Anita, including a six-furlong allowance last June.
Bella Mia is 5-3-1 in 10 career starts with earnings of $150,173 for John and Janene Maryanski.
Wright also had the fourth race exacta as first-time starter Beau Rocket ($15.60) rolled by two-lengths over She Cherie, running five furlongs in a brisk :56.54. The winner is a 3-year-old Heatseeker filly owned and bred by Ernest Sherman. … Rosies Baby ($14.40) joined Das Bear as two-time winners at the meet with a one-length victory in race six for owner Daniel Heap and trainer Edwin Cornier. … Sunday’s second race honored longtime Thoroughbred owner Howard Hammer on his 99th birthday. … 95-year-old Arturo Arboleda – oldest active trainer in North America – notched his first win of the meet, a $48.40 upset with Sway Road in the third race. … Trainer Howie Gibson is 2 for 2 at the meet including a victory by Royal Guard ($15.60) in the second race. … Best of Me was the only favorite to win Sunday; seven of nine winners paid double digits. … Ceballos is the first rider with a three-win day this season. … Jose Zunino rode two winner Sunday. … Live racing resumes Friday with an eight-race card at 6:30 p.m.