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Quarter Horses back in action tonight; eight to go in $50K Governor’s Handicap on Sunday

May 17, 2013     E-mail this page to a friend!

Quarter Horses return with special 6:15 p.m. post time Friday

The first two Quarter Horse races of the meet precede Friday’s six Thoroughbred events, with post time 30 minutes earlier than normal at 6:15 p.m.

In the 350-yard opener, non-winners of two allowance runners compete for a $3,600 purse, and 3-year-old Texas-bred filly Cartel Madam and 4-year-old Oregon-bred gelding Sensor are the ones to beat.

Cartel Madam ships in from Los Alamitos, where she recently finished third and second in 300-yard allowance races with purses of $13,600 and $10,735. Sensor turned in an excellent 2012 campaign at Portland Meadows, finishing on the board in all three starts including a good third at 11-to-1 in the $15,000 Portland Meadows Derby.

The second race at 870-yards (about 4 furlongs) is a mixed field of five Quarter Horses and three Thoroughbreds. Quarter Horses generally have an advantage in such events, but a Thoroughbred, Bleu Tarp, set the track record of :45.78 while defeating five Quarter Horses here last year.

Sunday’s first race also features Quarter Horses, with a field of six maiden-claimers racing 300 yards for a $5,000 tag.

Emerald Downs ran only five QH races in 2012, after running 18 in 2011.

The meet’s biggest race for Quarter Horses is the $60,000 Bank of America/Emerald Downs Championship Challenge on Sunday, September 1.

Defending champion Winning Machine heads field of eight in $50,000 Governor’s Handicap on Sunday

Frank Lucarelli has won 724 races and 29 stakes in 18 seasons at Emerald Downs, but the veteran trainer says Winning Machine is unique.

“(Winning Machine) is an amazing horse,” Lucarelli said. “He can run short, long, you name it*he even ran a mile and three-eighths in Canada. The thing is, he always runs a big race.”

Sunday, the 7-year-old gelding begins another quest for the track’s Holy Grail as the road to the Longacres Mile begins with the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap at 6˝ furlongs. The defending champion, Winning Machine drew the #6 post-position in a field of eight, with regular rider Javier Matias getting the mount at 120 lbs.

A Kentucky-bred by Toccet-Dance With Carson, Winning Machine is 9-9-4 in a 33-race career with earnings of $468,988 for owner-breeder Fleur De Lis Stables. A three-time champion and four-time stakes winner at Emerald Downs, Winning Machine was voted Top 3-Year-Old Male in 2009 and Top Sprinter and Top Handicap Horse in 2012, when he came within a head of winning the Longacres Mile.

In last year’s Governor’s, Winning Machine came from slightly off the pace to topple Jebrica, world-record holder Hollywood Harbor and two-time Horse of the Meeting Noosa Beach in a stakes record-tying 1:13.97. In last month’s prep for this year’s Governor’s, Winning Machine was bogged down in traffic but managed to rally for second in a $21,000 allowance race won by Makors Finale in 1:02.71 for 5˝ furlongs.

“He’s doing really good, he worked well (five furlongs in 1:002) for the race,” Lucarelli said of Winning Machine. “He’s a happy horse.”

Aaron Gryder, the leading rider at Hastings Racecourse, has the mount on Hoist for trainer Mike Puhich and owner North American Thoroughbred Company. Winner of 2,992 career races, Gryder’s only previous ride at Emerald Downs was a third on Tropic Storm in the 2008 Longacres Mile.

The field from the rail out for Sunday’s $50,000 Governor’s Handicap: Kooky Saluki, Juan Gutierrez, 115 lbs; Stryker Phd, Debbie Hoonan, 113; Hoist, Aaron Gryder, 118; Edge Forward, Isaias Enriquez, 115; Why Not Be Perfect, Anne Sanguinetti, 121; Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 120; D’honorable One, David G. Lopez, 117; Assessment, Jennifer Whitaker, 116.