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Starbird Road is star in Seattle Handicap


May 1, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Michael Costanzo
Auburn, WA, April 30 - Jockey Debbie Hoonan is making a habit of winning the $40,000 Seattle Handicap. Hoonan guided Starbird Road to the win in 68th running of the six-furlong stakes, the first leg of the Longacres Mile series. Last year Hoonan won the race aboard Slewicide Cruise.

Starbird Road, conditioned by Sharon Ross, broke from the 12th post position and stayed within striking distance of Salt Grinder, which set fractions of :21 3/5 seconds and :44 1/5. Coming out of the turn into the stretch, Starbird Road grabbed the lead as Salt Grinder faded to third.

"He'll jump up there then relax," Hoonan said."Then he'll give me a burst of speed when I ask him." The Washington-bred son of Count the Time finished the race in 1:08 3/5.

Spanish Highway, ridden by Ken Tohill and conditioned by Bill Tollett, came from off the pace to grab second.

"I probably would have had a better shot had I been able to get out a little earlier," Tohill said. "The horse opted to go to the rail, so I let him. He still ran a good race."

Starbird Road did not race during his 3-year-old year and posted a 3-2-1 from seven starts in 2005.

"Missing his 3-year-old year was the best thing that could have happened to him," Ross said. "He had a nice winter and came back super."

This is the first stakes victory for Starbird Road. The 5-year-old charge improved his record to 5-4-1 from 12 starts with $80,498 in earnings lifetime. Ross last won the Seattle Handicap in 2002 with Crowning Meeting.

Starbird Road paid $34.60 $16.20 and $7.60. Spanish Highway paid $8.40 and $5.60 for second and Slewicide Cruise returned $5.20 for third.

* Trainer Frank Lucarelli saddled first race winner Thiscatskrafty on Sunday giving him 399 career wins at Emerald Downs.

* Emerald Downs' all-time leading jockey Gallyn Mitchell won a pair of races on the Sunday card, scoring in the third race with Harbo before returning to win the fourth race aboard Al Be Back. Both of Mitchell's winners returned $28.20.

Emerald Downs is celebrating its 10th anniversary season with a 91-day racing meet from Friday, April 21 through Sunday, October 1. The centerpiece of the 2006 season is the 71st running of the Grade III $250,000 Longacres Mile to be held on Sunday, August 20. For more information please visit www.emeralddowns.com