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Raise the Bluff doesn’t deceive in Pepsi-Cola Handicap

June 5, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Michael Costanzo
Auburn, WA (June 4) - Raise the Bluff established himself as the top sophomore male at Emerald Downs on Sunday when coming from off the pace to win the $55,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap.

Breaking from post number eight in the eight-horse field, the son of Pine Bluff, conditioned by Junior Coffey and ridden by Nathan Chaves, won his second consecutive start this season, and secured his first stakes victory.

The colt, owned by Ron Crockett Inc., won the opening night feature at Emerald but was scratched from the Auburn Stakes May 7 due to a slightly elevated temperature. Coffey said the decision to not run the horse made the difference in Sunday's stakes win.

"We discussed it when he came up with a little temperature," Coffey said. "I felt it was best not to run the horses under those conditions cause we might knock him out for the season. We backed off and everyone was on the same page."

Raise The Bluff sat off the pace as the leaders Ballou Slew and race favorite Courting Seattle set fractions of 22 1/5 seconds for the opening quarter, and 45 1/5 at the half-mile mark.

"I knew he could lay off the pace going a route of ground," Coffey said. "I really believe with most horses if you can get them to relax in the first part, the punch at the end is always better."

Coming into the turn Chaves began to position the colt for his run at the leaders. "I dropped in a little around the turn," Chaves said. "He was towing me into the lead and I knew it would be fun coming down the lane."

Raise The Bluff took the lead in the final furlong from Courting Seattle, the winner of the Auburn Stakes, and held off the late charge of Ragin Nonno and jockey Kevin Krigger. "I had traffic from the get-go and I never had a chance to let this horse run," Krigger stated. "Once we got clear we started running," Krigger said. "He had a quick response and I think with a clear trip he might have been the winner."

"The pace was slow enough for him," Courting Seattle's rider Jennifer Whitaker said. "He did good but he just got out run by another horse."

Raise The Bluff improved his lifetime record to 3-3-0 from seven starts with $88,176 in lifetime earnings. This is the first stakes victory for the colt, after finishing second by a neck to Schoolin You in the 2005 Gottstein Futurity.

Raise the Bluff finished the race in 1:16 and paid $13.60, $7.20 and $4. Ragin Nonno returned $8.80 and $4 for second, while Courting Seattle paid $2.20 for third.

The final order of finish was Raise the Bluff, Ragin Nonno, Courting Seattle, Plain James, My Friend Luis, Ballou Slew, Izzacopy, and Tusko T.
The Pepsi-Cola Handicap is the second leg of the Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby series that began with the Auburn Stakes May 7, and will culminate with the 69th running of the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Derby at a distance of 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 4.

* Jockey Kevin Radke had a riding double on the Sunday card placing him in a tie with Kevin Krigger for the top spot in the jockey standings. Both have ridden 18 winners at the meet. Radke won the riding title at Emerald Downs in 2002 and 2003, while Krigger was last year's champion.