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E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva in rematch as $50K Hastings ’cap kicks off 2013 stakes

May 10, 2013     E-mail this page to a friend!

The 2013 stakes program begins Sunday as eight older fillies and mares meet in the 18th running of the $50,000 Hastings Handicap at six furlongs. The Hastings is the first of 29 stakes worth $1,545,000 to be run in 2013, and first stop for fillies and mares on the road to the championship Emerald Distaff in August.

The Hastings came up tough, with no less than six stakes winners in the lineup, but players likely are going to see the race as a rematch of the April 21 allowance race in which Exclusive Diva defeated E Z Kitty by a neck in 1:01.56 for 5 ½ furlongs. Neither horse gave an inch in that tussle as they raced within a length of each other from start to finish, and runner-up E Z Kitty finished more than eight lengths ahead of third-place finisher You Me and Ema B.

Trainer Jeff Metz, who conditions the recently purchased E Z Kitty for owners Bruce and Cass Maller of Scottsdale, Ariz., said he expects the 5-year-old to improve off her last effort. Winner of five stakes in a 17-race career, E Z Kitty is high-weighted at 121 lbs for the Hastings, which goes as Race 9 Sunday at 6:09 p.m. Exclusive Diva was assigned 120 lbs and Champagneandcaviar, last year’s Top 3-Year-Old Filly, carries 119 lbs in her 2013 debut.

“We’ll be a lot fitter this go around,” Metz said of E Z Kitty. “We hope to turn the tables on Exclusive Diva.”

Metz, second with eight wins in the trainer’s standings, said the Mallers plan to fly up to Emerald Downs to watch the race.

“Sunday will be the first time they get to see their silks on E Z Kitty,” Metz said. “I’m excited for my first Emerald Downs stakes race. We bought this filly for the stakes program, and we’re excited to watch her compete throughout the stakes calendar.”

E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva could lock horns from the start, as they have drawn the seven and eight post-positions and appear to have the fastest early speed.

An opening speed duel would likely benefit Champagneandcaviar, the stretch-running half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Winning Machine. Champagneandcaviar nosed out Exclusive Diva for 3-year-old filly honors after narrow route victories in both the Kent Handicap and Washington Oaks. Exclusive Diva captured both sprint stakes for 3-year-old fillies last year with easy scores in the Seattle Handicap and Irish Day Handicap.

New shooters Gosailgo and Plus One make their first Emerald Downs’ appearances Sunday. The former comes off an allowance triumph at Turf Paradise for trainer Robert Anderson, and the latter makes her first start for 10-time local training champ Tim McCanna.

The field from the rail out for Sunday’s $50,000 Hastings Handicap: Maggie’s Special, Eliska Kubinova, 115 lbs; Champagneandcaviar, Javier Matias, 117; Gosailgo, Debbie Hoonan, 117; Royal Moses, Rocco Bowen, 116; Plus One, David Lopez, 118; Smokin’ Grey, Isaias Enriquez, 117; E Z Kitty, Anne Sanguinetti, 121; Exclusive Diva, Juan Gutierrez, 120.