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Battle of unbeatens as Trackattacker faces Prime Engine in Gottstein Futurity

September 26, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

Leslie Mawing rides Trackattacker to victory in the WTBOA Lads Stakes on August 16
(photo by Erin Palmer, courtesy of Emerald Downs)
Something has to give this Sunday, September 28, when unbeaten 2-year-olds Trackattacker and Prime Engine face off in the $65,000 Gottstein Futurity, which at 1-1/16 miles is the longest race of the season for 2-year-olds and the final of 29 stakes this season at Emerald Downs.

The 2-year-old championship event has attracted six 2-year-olds, including Val De Saire, who seeks to become only the 10th filly to win the race in its storied 77-year history.

Each year the Gottstein produces several intriguing storylines, but the showdown of Trackattacker and Prime Engine is one of the meet’s most anticipated races.

Trackattacker, undefeated in four starts, has been a dominant force in the stakes division thus far while winning the Emerald Express, WTBOA Lads and DRF Dennis Dodge Stakes by an aggregate 27¼ lengths. A victory by the Washington-bred gelding would easily clinch honors as the track’s Top 2-Old-Male and would keep him in contention for Horse of the Meeting, too.

Nevertheless, any hopes of a Gottstein walkover for Trackattacker were quickly dashed after Prime Engine’s sparkling debut just two weeks ago at Emerald Downs. The chestnut colt by Northern Afleet throttled his competition by 10¼ lengths, running 5½ furlongs in 1:03.55, the only sub-1:04 at the distance since August 24. As a reward, Prime Engine earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest for a 2-year-old since Gallant Son notched an 86 in 2009—and seven points higher than Trackattacker’s career-high in the Emerald Express.

Prime Engine’s trainer, Mike Puhich, said the horse has always had supreme potential.

“We’ve always liked him since day one,” Puhich said Thursday from owner Mark Dedomenico’s Pegasus Training Center in Redmond. “That goes back to when we first started breaking him. He’s always been a real professional.

“After we ran him the first time, he really proved it because I liked his stablemate Chief Of Staff a whole lot, but Prime Engine beat him pretty handily.”

It’s hard to find a chink in the armor on a horse that looked invincible in his only career start. However, the cynics might question any 2-year-old’s ability to parlay a 5½-furlong win versus maidens into a victory against winners running 1-1/16 miles. Especially while facing the likes of Trackattacker.

While Puhich respects the competition, he swiftly quelled any doubts about Prime Engine stretching out while wheeling back in two weeks.

“I came from the old school working for a lot of old-time trainers,” Puhich said. “I personally wouldn’t be afraid to run a horse long in its first start if the horse is bred to do it.

“Prime Engine is bred to go two turns and he’s been training like he wants to go two turns,” Puhich said. “The quick turnaround won’t be an issue. He came out of that last race like it was a workout.”

The field for the 77th Running of the Gottstein Futurity:
Post Horse                    Jockey          Trainer       Odds
1 Prime Engine (KY) Enriquez Puhich 8-to-5
2 Val de Saire (WA) Bowen Harwood 15-to-1
3 Old Fashioned Grit (KY) Mitchell 120 Markle 10-to-1
4 Bolshoi's Bluff (WA) Camacho-Flores Martinez 20-to-1
5 Trackattacker (WA) Mawing Lucarelli 3-to-5
6 Private Boss (WA) Matias Lumm 15-to-1

The Gottstein Futurity is the ninth race on the card, scheduled for approximately 5:55 p.m. local time.

$50,000 NWSS Cahill Road Stakes also on tap on Sunday

In addition to the Gottstein Futurity, Emerald Downs offers a second stakes event for 2-year-olds on Sunday—the $50,000 Northwest Stallion Series Cahill Road Stakes at six furlongs.

The NWSS Cahill Road is slotted as race #8, directly ahead of the Gottstein Futurity, and features a field of seven colts and geldings. The Roy Lumm-trained Moby, second and third to Trackattacker in the WTBOA Lads and DRF Dennis Dodge Stakes, bypassed the Gottstein to run in the Cahill Road.

Carson’s Start is an interesting entrant in at least two regards. By Abraaj-Miss Pixie, Carson’s Start scored an easy two-length victory in his only start vs. state-bred $12,500 maidens, and subsequently was sold privately to Sue and Tim Spooner and transferred to trainer Dan Markle, who lures Leslie Mawing to ride.

Mawing, who has clinched his second EmD riding title with 96 wins, has been especially good in stakes events this season. His 11-3-2 record in 22 stakes mounts is one of the great riding achievements in track history, and he still has a chance to tie Gallyn Mitchell’s single-season record of 13 stakes wins set 14 years ago. Back-to-back victories on Carson’s Start and Trackattacker in the Gottsetin Futurity would do the trick.

The field for the NWSS Cahil Road stakes:
Post Horse                   Jockey          Trainer     Odds
1 Daytona Beach (WA) Lopez Harwood 2-to-1
2 Gavinator (WA) Zunino Pirone 12-to-1
3 Eight Ball Parker (WA) Camacho-Flores Bozell 12-to-1
4 Ididn'taskforthis (WA) Matias McCanna 5-to-2
5 Carson's Start (WA) Mawing Markle 7-to-2
6 Moby (WA) Mitchell Lumm 3-to-1
7 Caddy Shack Cat (WA) Coddington Balcom 15-to-1