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Courting Seattle wins Auburn Stakes at Emerald

May 10, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Michael Costanzo
Auburn, WA (May 7) – Courting Seattle was the best date in town on Sunday at Emerald Downs when the 3-year-old gelding won the $40,000 Auburn Stakes.

The son of Doneraile Court took the first step down the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby trail by finishing first in the Auburn, winning by nearly three lengths. The derby series will culminate on Sept. 4 with the 69th running of the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby, to be held at a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Courting Seattle, conditioned by Howard Belvoir and ridden Jennifer Whitaker, was sent off as the $2.80-1 wagering favorite in the field of eight sophomores. Portland Meadows invader Ballou Slew, under jockey Clark Jones, made the lead out of the gate setting fractions of :21 4/5 seconds and :44 for the opening half-mile, as Courting Seattle stalked him from second on the turn. At the quarter-mile pole, Courting Seattle made his run and took command of the race.

“I told Jennifer to set right off (the leader),” Belvoir said. “We want to teach him to rate if he's going to go a mile.” Belvoir is looking at the next two stops in the derby series for Courting Seattle, the $55,000 Pepsi-Cola handicap at 6 ½ furlongs on June 4, and the $65,000 Tacoma Handicap, held at the distance of 1-mile on July 2.

Courting Seattle won the race in 1:08 3/5. It was 2 ¾-lengths back to Ballou Slew, who finished second, and a nose back to Tusko T., also trained by Belvoir, who ran third. Rounding out the field was Ragin Nonno, Gucci For You, Exclusive Eagle, My Friend Luis, and Sharper Edge.

Courting Seattle paid $7.60, $5.40 and $3.60. Ballou Slew returned $5.60 and $4.20 for second while Tusko T paid $4.60 for show.

* Raise the Bluff, who was listed as third choice in the Auburn Stakes morning-line at 4-1 was scratched from the race due to an elevated temperature.

* Jockey Kevin Krigger had a riding triple on the Sunday card, scoring the natural hat trick by winning the first three races on the program.

* The $1 trifecta in Sunday's 11th race returned $24,337.90. It was the third highest trifecta pay off in track history.