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Sunday is Irish Day at Emerald Downs

June 26, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

Citizen Kitty hanging out Thursday at the Jeff Metz barn
(photo by Emerald Downs)
Emerald Downs will don the traditional green, white and orange colors of Ireland on Sunday, June28, for the track’s Irish Day celebration.

With Crumac playing traditional Irish Music on the Park Stage and Irish dancers from Scoil Rince Slieveloughane inside the gates, Emerald Downs will be in full swing for the track's annual event. Irish Wolfhounds from the Irish Wolfhound Club of Puget Sound are also expected to make an appearance.

Meanwhile, race fans hope to have the "Luck of the Irish" on their sides during live racing as Emerald Downs has prepared a fantastic 10-race card, headlined by the $50,000 Irish Day Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

$50k Irish Day Handicap tests soph fillies at one mile

It’s still early, but the 2015 series for 3-year-old fillies already resembles last year’s, when the five-race series produced five different winners. Based on overall consistency, Chu and You ultimately captured division honors narrowly over Find Your Spot.

One thing’s already certain: Sunday’s $50,000 Irish Day Handicap will produce another new winner in the division. Deb’s Wildcard, the California-bred filly that nipped Ethan’s Baby in the May 31 Seattle Handicap, returned home and finished third in last week’s $50,000 Pleasanton Oaks won by Windy Forecast in 1:10.25 for six furlongs.

That leaves Ethan’s Baby as the horse to beat Sunday, but the Offlee Wild filly, like several of her counterparts, will be trying two turns for the first time in the one-mile Irish Day. Last year’s 2-year-old filly champion at Emerald Downs, Ethan’s Baby is a 2-1-0 in four career starts with earnings of $47,293, including a nose decision to Deb’s Wildcard in the 6 ½-furlong Seattle. Julien Couton, the meet’s leading rider with 42 wins, takes over the mount at 119 lbs.

Suva Harbor, a Rockport Harbor filly with plenty of route experience, is the starting high weight at 120 lbs. Coming off a third in the Seattle Handicap, Suva Harbor is now conditioned by Mike Puhich for California movie mogul Gary Barber.

Jeff Metz, on course for a third straight training title, entered both Citizen Kitty and Springsprangsprung. The former, a daughter of Proud Citizen, steps way up in class off a fourth in a first-level allowance at 6 ½ furlongs. The latter, by Spring At Last, makes her local debut following a steady Turf Paradise campaign that included a runner-up finish in the Angi Go Stakes at a mile on a sloppy track.

“(Citizen Kitty) deserves a chance and we're going to take a shot at stretching her out,” Metz said. “We think she'll get the mile. She's got a long, efficient stride and she's a steady grinder. If she does like the mile, then it should set us up for the stakes down the road.

“(Springsprangsprung’s) not a very big filly so it doesn't take a lot to get her fit and she never gets tired. I don't think the distance will be problem. The thing with the 3-year-old fillies is that this is the first time a lot of them are stretching out, and she won't be one of them.

“I like where we're sitting with both of these horses,” Metz added. “I hope that they both get a clean trip. If we win, that's icing on the cake. If they run good, it'll set us up nicely for the next two stakes races.”
Citizen Kitty (3-1-0-1-$14,064) races for Bruce and Cass Maller’s Highlander Racing Stables LLC while Springsprangsprung (11-1-2-1-$18,790) campaigns for Tim Floyd’s Warlock Stables.

• The Irish Day is Race 9 at 6:09 p.m.
• Average field size thru eight stakes is 9.1 horses.
• Average $2 win payoff is $21.80. ($2 win prices: $19, $81.40, $19, $8.20, $3.60, $3.40, $18.40)

The field for the 20th running of the Irish Day Handicap: Hip Ninety Three, Jake Barton, 117 lbs; Suva Harbor, Joe Steiner, 120; Pippa Bou Peep, Eliska Kubinova, 116; Belle Hill, Leslie Mawing, 116; Seeking the Light, Juan Gutierrez, 117; Citizen Kitty, Rocco Bowen, 114; Springsprangsprung, Diego Sanchez, 116; Ethan’s Baby, Julien Couton, 119; Sneaking a Kiss, Francisco Duran, 114.