(Auburn, WA) Memorial Day weekend racing was the final week of 2 days of racing with a pair of 8 race cards. Some new faces making impacts and old favorites back also finding their way into the winners circle.

Sunday 2 former Emerald Jockey Champs won races along with a newcomer. On Sunday, former multiple owner Champion John Parker got his 1st win of the season snapping his shut out and is gearing up for a competitive season. Meantime, new trainer to Emerald Miguel Hernandez had another good week as did defending Champion conditioner Justin Evans.

Our coverage below beginning with Saturday and the official returns of Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Krigger. Let’s get to it!

Saturday, May 25 Racing

Race 7  Feature Race Juan Gutierrez officially is back!

Former Emerald Jockey Champion and all-time winningest rider at Emerald Downs, Juan Gutierrez, got back in the winners circle for the 1st time since September 17, 2022 when he rode Mosquito Fleet for a nose win over Mister McLean at 6-1 for trainer Jeff Metz. Gutierrez then took all of 2023 off and never commented on whether it was just a break or if he had contemplated retiring.

Oreo’s Dream w/Juan Gutierrez

Gutierrez had been working horses in the morning at Emerald prior to the 2024 season which led to speculation Guti was going to ride again and he is back. With a very competitive jock’s room he is getting fewer chances and came into Saturday with just 5 rides and a 2nd place best finish.

The public wasn’t thinking his 1st win was coming with 3 mounts on Saturday he had a 6-1 in a 4-horse race, 22-1 in a 6 horse field for his 6th and 7th rides of the season finishing 4th in the 4 horse race and 5th place on his 22-1. So when Gutierrez took aleg up in the Saturday feature the fans didn’t give him much chance to win much less beat any of the other 5 horses going off as the longest shot on the board at 16-1 aboard 6-year-old Washington mare Oreo’s Dream.

Guti and Oreo broke alertly on the rail going 6-furlongs sitting 2nd then engaged front runner Holy Tutta Bella and Luis Reyes at the top of the stretch. Oreo and Guti cut the corner and stayed o9n the rail taking the lead at the 1/8th pole and then held off the closers in Ms Flashy Harbor with Brayan Pena and eased away for a 3/4 length win stunning the bettors paying $34.34 on the $2 win, $11.74 and $4.84 for a $50.92 combo return.

Oreo’s Dream by Coast Guard out of Oriental Dream by Orientate was bred by Nina and Ron Hagan. Oreo’s Dream races for MoSaWi Racing and Ellen and James Moore and trained by Anne Wisdom. She covered the 3/4’s mile in 1:09.85. Oreo’s Dream is now 4-3-3 from 23 lifetimje starts and picked up $9,120 for the win to push her career winnings to a little over 70k.

Ms Flashy Harbor was 2nd while Tiz A Tiger with Alex Cruz closed well to finish 3rd and Lucinda Rella and Carlos Montalvo was 4th. The $1 exacta paid a surprisingly low $58.56 as well as the 50-cent trifecta of $47.26 which shows bettors used Oreo in the exotics but laid off the straight win bets.

Oreo’s Dream wins the Saturday Feature

2nd Former Champion Kevin Krigger wins the 5th

Another former Emerald Downs Jockey Champion got his 1st win back in Auburn since 2019. Kevin Krigger won the title in 2005 and since then has bounced all over the United States riding at the now closed Suffolk Downs near Boston to Keeneland earlier this spring and many stops in between. Krigger’s last win at Emerald was on September 22, 2019 when he brought home 7-1 Jack’s Reign for owner/trainer Robert Gilker.

Krigger was back on Saturday with his 1st ride in that 4 horse 3rd race and took 3rd on the 2nd favorite. His 2nd ride aboard the 2nd choice again, 2-1 Surprisinglyperfect in the 5th race broke well in the 1-mile run and sat just behind the leaders in 3rd. Krigger asked Surprisinglyperfect for some run at the 6-furlong mark and poked his head in front of the favorite All the King’s Men with Karlo Lopez.

Surprisinglyperfect was then gone and rolled to a nearly 8 length win in a time of 1:35.50. All the King’s Men held 2nd, Corn Pop with Kiaman McGregor 3rd and Dark Mystery with Kevin Orozco 4th. Surprisinglyperfect races for Rakoczy Racing and Justin Evans as does 2nd place All the King’s Men to sweep the exacta which paid just $5.72.

Krigger got another win on Sunday, re-cap below, and Joe Withee got a chance to catch up with Krigger Sunday afternoon in the interview below.

Emerald’s Joe Withee catches up with Kevin Krigger on Sunday

1st Emerald win for Allyssa Morales in the 2nd

Allyssa Morales

Another jockey got her 1st ever win at Emerald Downs in Allyssa Morales when she brought home Sport Coat in the 2nd race from just off the pace at 8-1 in the 2nd race. Sport Coat broke well in the 1-mile run sitting 4th on the rail about 3 lengths behind the front runner Benny Buckets with Silvio Amador who was 9-2. Benny Buckets set the fractions of 23.90, 46.66 and 1:10.81 for the 6-furlongs.

But it wasn’t a 6-furlong race but rather 8 and Morales got Sport Coat rolling in the stretch to get up in the final 50 yards for the 1/2 length win in a final time of 1:37.13. Sport Coat races for Vanessa Arballo and is trained by Miguel Hernandez and paid $19.94, $8.68 and $4.28. Benny Buckets held 2nd and was clear of 3rd place Arizona Davin with Brayan Pena and completing the superfecta was Outofquemado and Karlo Lopez.

Morales began riding in 2018 and has raced mostly at Turf Paradise, Arizona Downs and Arapahoe in Colorado. Saturday’s win was her 80th career victory on her 1,197th mount. Her overall record is now 80-118-159 from 1,199 rides and earnings of just shy of 1.3-million. Morales is off to a solid start in her first year outside of the Southwest.

Allyssa’s 1st Emerald win!

The rest of Saturday’s races:

1st Race
“The Rooster”, Javier Matias is boasting the highest win percent for the meeting at 33% winning 5 of his 15 mounts including the opener on Saturday with 1-1 favorite Meteor Shower covering the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.45 with an off the pace clear win by 2 3/4 lengths. Nomi Lackee and Karlo Lopez held on for 2nd at 9-2, Square Fun and Brayan Pena was 3rd and Mumbles Brockman with Alex Cruz was 4th. Meteor Shower races for Joseph Dragna and is trained by David Martinez.

3rd Race

Karlo Lopez

After 2 late scratches, just 4 were left to go 6 furlongs and odds-on favorite Tribal Impact with Karlo Lopez went to the lead and although challenged by Smooth Papa with Kiaman McGregor at the top of the stretch, Tribal Impact had plenty left to win by 1 3/4. It was a great run for the 10-1 Smooth Papa to hold 2nd over 8-5 Surprise Fashion and Kevin Krigger with 6-1 Hey Sequoia and Juan Gutierrez taking 4th. Even though there was only 4 horses there was still superfecta betting and returned a solid $27.20 on the $1 bet. Tribal Impact is owned by Justin Evans and Paul Miller and trained by Evans.


4th Race
In his only ride of the weekend, Isaias Enriquez made it count with a front running win on Derby Boy at nearly 6-1. Derby went 21.85 in the 1st quarter of the 5 1/2 furlong sprint but put it away slowing it down to 45.55 for the half and won by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:05.14. Favorite Sir Looking Glass with Brayan Pena closed well for 2nd, Connecter and Alex Cruz took 3rd and 22-1 Bossybynature with Francisco Diaz-Perez boosted the superfecta pay-out to a nice $71.38 or $713.80 for the $1 bet.

Derby Boy is trained by Vince Gibson and owned by Gary and Karen Wallace and Richard Vanderwooten. The 3-year-old gelding is a Washingt0n bred by Private Gold out of Grand Baylee by Lion Heart and was bred by the owners.

6th Race
Apprentice Manuel Americano probably thought he was going to get his 1st win with a length lead at the top of the stretch on 7-1 Quail. But 2 challengers came rolling late with 5-1 Half Throttle tagging him on the wire by a head with Silvio Amador in the saddle. Quail held off the other closer Surroundedbyangels and Brayan Pena by a neck. Grammy Winner and Alex Cruz ran 4th. Half Throttle covered the 5 furlong dash in 57.68 and is owned by Quentin Miller and trained by Sergio Perez.

8th Race
When you let a front speed horse run loose you risk not being able to catch the early speed which is exactly what happened in the Saturday finale. Mary Walker at 5-1 with Carlos Montalvo quickly buildt a 2 length lead going 6 1/2 furlongs. Montalvo was able to get away with fractions of 22.50 then 44.83 and was never challenged winning by 4 lengths in a final time of 1:16.52. 20-1 Warren’s Memorable ran well to take 2nd with Karlo Lopez up, 7-1 Cielo Diamonte and Brayan Pena was 3rd, Clay’s Opal Indy and Silvio Amador was 4th with 7-1 Criminal Record and Kevin Orozco completing the Super High 5. The owner/trainer combination of Vanessa Arballo and Miguel Hernandez got their 2nd win of the day also taking the 2nd race.

The Betting Window









Saturday’s Betting Window

There were several season high pay-outs on Saturday. 5 of the 8 races paid double digit $2 wins and only 2 favorites winning, one in that 4 horse race and the other in the opener. The average $2 win on the day paid $13.49 or 5.7-1, the average $2 win dropping the 2 odds on was $16.71 or 7.4-1 and the final 5 races or the Pick 5 races where 4 of 5 collected $194 and carried over $6,225 to Sunday was $16.06 or 7-1.

Despite that there was not a new high $2 win, place or show pay-out new highs were reached in the 50-cent trifecta, 10-cent superfecta and 50-cent pick 3. The new tri and super pays came in the finale with the 50-cent trifecta paying $373.77. This was a 5-1 to 20-1 to 7-1 top 3 finish. Add a 4-1 in 4th and the superfecta paid $246.57 on the dime bet or $2,465.70 on the $1 wager.

The new top 50-cent pick 3 pay also included the finale starting with 5-1 Half Throttle in the 6th, 16-1 Oreo’s Dream in the 7th and 5-1 Mary Walker for a $759.53 pay-out. The final pick 4 began with 2-1 Surprisinglyperfect and although paid a handsome $2,253.94 it was not close to the nearly $5,200 pay-out on May 11.

Sunday’s May 26 Races

7th Race Feature Race

A field of 6 went 6 furlongs and despite front runners dominating the day there was another trend that played out this weekend and that was the rail was razor fast and out in the middle of the track seemed to be deep and closers were not able to run down the speed from the middle to the outside of the Auburn oval. 6 of the 8 races were won by the horse who broke 1st. The 1st non-front runner was a stalking trip by Neissa in the 3rd but she clung to the rail and rolled to an easy win closing on the rail.

The 2nd non-front runner was Naval Escort in the feature race. Javier Matias not only took off the lead but was dead last down the back stretch. Matias never took 6-year-old Washington bred gelding off the fence and closed well around the turn and all the leaders drifted off the rail turning for home leaving a huge opening for Naval Escort and Matias. Naval Escort had built up big momentum and roared past the 2 hanging leaders in favorite Peter Flies with Karlo Lopez and Chuckanut Bay with Alex Cruz to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:09.24.

To emphasize the middle of the track Chuckanut Bay looked like an easy winner turning for home with a nice move to engage front runner Peter Flies and Naval Escort isn’t even in the picture at the quarter pole.  As the 2 leaders drifted out the slower they ran and Peter Flies held the place spot by a neck. But they left wide open the fast inside part of the track and “The Rooster” has never been afraid of sticking on the rail. Its Kraken time with Luis Reyes was a distant 4th.

Naval Escort is trained by David Martinez who teamed up with Matias for 2 wins this weekend. Naval Escort is owned by Oak Crest Farm and was bred by the owner. Naval Escort by Coast Guard out of Cape Grace by Abraaj returned $11.44, $5.56 and $3.86 for a $20.86 $2 across the board return. Naval Escort collected $13,965 to push his career earnings to $95,898 and his career record is now 3-5-7 from 24 starts. That’s a 13% win rate and 63% top 3 clip. All his 24 career starts have been at Emerald Downs.

Sunday Feature Race Naval Escort Last to First

The Rest of Sunday’s Races

1st Race
The 1st front speed horse took the opener but by just a nose as Gypsy Gun with Carlos Montalvo denied odds on Anniversaire d’Or and Alex Cruz from the win. Fed Grant and Karlo Lopez was 3rd with Mokki and Leslie Mawing running 4th. Gypsy Gun ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.63 and races for the Round Table Stable #1 and trained by Tom Wenzel. The 5-year-old gelding is a Washington bred by Maimonides out of Queen of War by War Front and was bred by the Round Table Stable.

2nd Race
Former riding Champ Kevin Krigger got his 2nd win of return weekend with a front running effort by Big Mama Thornton who rolled to an easy 1 3/4 length win over 6 1/2 furlongs in a final time of a swift 1:16.02. Don’t Tell Hydee witrh Brayan Pena chased Mama from the start and was a clear 2nd at 6-1, 10-1 Tiz For Real and Jose Zunino closed up for 3rd and odds-on Jazzy Love flattened out to finish 4th.  Big Mama Thornton races for Leanne and John Haas and Justin Evans and trained by Evans.

3rd Race
3 for 3 in front running wins as 7-2 Victoria’s Charge with Brayan Pena went straight to the lead on the fast rail and would draw clear for a convincing 2+ length win. Victoria was challenged by 6-5 Ethan’s Girl at the top of the stretch where Ethan’s Girl may even taken a slight lead but Pena had plenty saved in the tank. 14-1 Bellareign and David Martin ran well to be 3rd with 11-1 Deux Meres and Alex Cruz 4th. The 1st pick 3 of the day paid $24.58. Victoria’s Charge comes from the Alan Bozell barn and races for Kelly Dougan and Brett Brophy.

4th Race

John Parker and Candi Cryderman

Neissa was the first non-front-runner to get to the winners circle on the day with a well timed and executed ride from Leslie Mawing. Mawing and Neissa settled in 3rd on the rail and chased 7-1 Daredevil Princess and odds-on Toby’s Candy in the 5 1/2 furlong sprint and stayed on the rail where it opened up after the 2 front runners began to tire and drifted out. Neissa had plenty for the stretch blitzing the field by nearly 4 lengths. Alicehouseofheart with Alex Cruz ran on well to be 2nd, Big Jolt and Luis Reyes took 3rd while Toby’s Candy and Silvio Amador salvaged 4th place. Neissa ran the 5 1/2 in 1:03.77 and gave multiple Owners Champion John Parker his 1st win of the season along with trainer Candi Cryderman. Neissa is a Washington bred by Gold Rush Dancer out of Among the Stars by Harbor the Gold and was bred by Parker.



5th Race

Goat Rocks and Francisco Diaz-Perez

Back to the front speed we go and Goat Rocks and his preferred pilot Francisco Diaz-Perez had no trouble in handling this field winning by 4 3/4’s in a time of 1:09.56 for the 6-furlongs. Goat Rocks has had only 1 owner and trainer and for 10 of her 12 lifetime starts it’s been Diaz-Lopez in the saddle. The 2 times he didn’t ride Rocks finished 3rd and 8th. Under Diaz-Lopez she’s never finished worse than 4th with a 3-3-3-1 record. Thats a 30% win rate, 60% top 2, 90% top 3 finish and 100% superfecta finish. Out of his $57,403 in career earnings, the team of Goat Rocks and Francisco have earned $55,573 of it, all but $1,830.

Goat Rocks is a 4-year-old Washington bred filly by Linchpin out of Nightwalker by Parker’s Storm Cat and was bred by the owners Clemans View Farm and trained by Jose Navarro. Won Sassy Ride and Karlo Lopez ran 2nd, Nation’s Belle and Kevin Orozco took 3rd with She Said My Way and Brayan Pena 4th.


6th Race
Run Snappy was bet down to just under 2-1 and also was front speed not to be caught. Jockey Luis Reyes broke well and took command leading by 2 turning for home and then had to hold off Handr’sdream and Kevin Orozco for the neck win. Run Snappy’s stablemate D K’s Crown ran a hard 3rd just a neck back of 2nd place while Arizona Andrew and Alex Cruz settled for 4th. Run Snappy blazed out fractions of 21.55, 43.67 and a final 1:08.62 for the 6 furlongs. Snappy is owned by Bryon Seymore and trained by Justin Evans.

8th Race

Alex Cruz

Leading jockey and 4-time defending riding Champ Alex Cruz was on the brink of getting shut out for the weekend when he scored on the 1-5 favorite in the get-away race aboard Hey Barmaid. Cruz and Hey Barmaid went to the lead in the 1 mile finale and built a 3 length lead turning for home and won going away by 3 1/2 in a final time of 1:40.39. 25-1 Just Pin Me with Neptali Ortiz was 2nd, Nautical Mile and Brayan Pena took 3rd at 4-1, Exclusively Noble and Carlos Montalvo ran 4th while 28-1 Jeweled Again and Kevin Orozco completed the Super High 5.

Hey Barmaid races for Alex and Vincent Ortega and trained by Scott Tubbs. The 4-year-old filly is a Washington bred by Stay Thirsty out of Slew Tunes by Slewdledo and was bred by Nina Hagan.

The big favorite triggered multiple winners in the 50-cent pick 5 and pick 6. The pick 6 had a final pool of $15,724 and paid $650.48. The pick 5’s pool was $48,640 and returned $80.49. The Super High 5 paid just $38.57.

Jockey Notes

Out of the 16 races over the weekend 13 different riders won. No one tripled with just Carlos Montalvo, Javier Matias and Kevin Krigger winning 2, 1 each day. Alex Cruz remains on top of the standings with his least productive week so far this season with a 1-2-3-5 from 13 rides record.

Karlo Lopez the 2nd leading rider trails Cruz by 2 and did not lose any ground also getting just 1 win. Lopez has the worst case of 2nd-itis though as he was the runner-up 5 times this weekend with a 1-5-2-1 from 12 mounts. Lopez is now 7-17-6-1 for the season. Only Silvio Amador has double digit 2nds and is 1 of 4 riders tied for 3rd with 5 wins. Amador is 5-11-4-7 from 34 rides.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers! Old Guard isn’t ready for Retirement

The top 3 riders at Emerald in 2024 by win percent represent the old guard very well. Leading the way is Javier Matias at a 33% win rate, Isaias Enriquez is next at 29% and Carlos Montalvo at 28%. Kevin Krigger is the actual leader at 67% but he has just 3 rides while the other 3 have 14, 15 and 18.

Let’s have some fun with numbers and at the same time this warns you bettors you better pay attention when these veterans are in a race because they come in at a remarkable rate. Combined Matias, Enriquez and Montalvo have 47 mounts, 14 wins 5 2nds, 14 3rds and 6 4th place finishes. This is a 30% win clip, 70% top 3 and 83% top 4 finish rate.

Let’s compare that to the leaders of Cruz, Lopez, Pena and Amador, combined those 4 have 161 rides, 26 wins, 39 2nds, 30 shows and 27 4ths for a win percent of 16%, top 3 of 59% and top 4 rate of 76%.

How are these guys doing it? Well Matias in his career has 1,337 wins and $15,318,044 in earnings, Montalvo has 1,308 wins and $28,133,414 in earnings and Enriquez has had his photo taken 1,720 times and bank rolled $34,864,973 for crazy totals of 4,365 wins and combined earnings of $78,316,431.

Hey, Krigger is at 67% win rate winning 2 of his 3 rides this weekend so let’s make it 4 on 4. With his 3 rides added to the total the 4 old schoolers have 50 total mounts, 16 wins, 5 places, 15 shows and 6 4th places for a win rate of 32%, top 3 72% and top 4 finish rate of 84%

Plus, Krigger adds 1,079 wins and $21,496,312 for new grand totals of 5,444 wins and…wow…look at this combined earnings of $99,812,743, just shy of 100-MILLION dollars in earnings.

The top 4 stats have Cruz with 878 wins and $10,673,180 in earnings, Lopez has 820 wins and $11,486,351, Amador 649 wins with $11,067,552 in total earnings and Pena 391 wins and $9,281,676 for a total of 2,738 wins and $42,508,759 in combined earnings.

Taking a look at this wasn’t meant to try and say the top riders aren’t good and deserve the accolades and success but rather to show just how deep and experienced the jockey’s room is at little old Emerald Downs up here in the left hand corner that no one wants to pay attention too. Yep, the old dudes are still gettin it done. 

Jockey Standings
Jockey Mounts Wins Place Show 4th Win % Top 3% Super % Earnings
1 Alex Cruz 48 9 7 8 14 19% 50% 79% $121,877
2 Karlo Lopez 42 7 17 6 1 17% 71% 74% $132,494
3 Brayan Pena 37 5 4 12 5 14% 57% 70% $69,563
3 Silvio Amador 34 5 11 4 7 15% 59% 79% $91,330
3 Carlos Montalvo 18 5 1 6 2 28% 67% 78% $55,096
3 Javier Matias 15 5 0 1 1 33% 40% 47% $56,348
7 Luis Reyes 15 4 0 3 2 27% 47% 64% $50,326
7 Isaias Enriquez 14 4 3 2 2 29% 64% 79% $52,969
9 Kevin Orozco 22 3 3 4 2 14% 45% 55% $46,618
10 Jose Zunino 20 2 3 1 4 10% 30% 50% $35,450
10 Leslie Mawing 18 2 2 1 2 11% 28% 38% $33,479
10 Kevin Krigger 3 2 0 1 0 67% 100% 100% $15,915
13 Neptali Ortiz 10 1 1 1 3 10% 30% 60% $13,088
13 Francisco Diaz-Lopez 6 1 0 2 2 17% 50% 83% $21,276
13 Juan Gutierrez 8 1 1 0 3 13% 25% 63% $15,550
13 Alyssa Morales 7 1 0 0 1 14% 14% 29% $7,635
17 David Martin 9 0 1 1 0 0% 22% 22% $6,278
17 Manuel Americano 8 0 1 1 3 0% 25% 63% $6,853
17 Vladimir Jensen 9 0 1 2 0 0% 33% 33% $6,785
17 Jose Rodriguez 3 0 0 0 0 0% 0% 0% $815
17 Kiaman McGregor 5 0 1 1 1 0% 40% 60% $5,797


By paulb

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