(Auburn, WA) Saturday’s race card had 8 races going highlighted by the $50,000 Hastings Stakes. There were a total of 50 starters for an average of 6.25 starters. Alex Cruz is on a hot streak tabbing 4 wins on Saturday and now has 6 for the weekend with Sunday still to go. Trainer Justin Evans celebrated his birthday with a pair of wins and fan favorite Barkley makes a return to the track…well part of Barkley.

Let’s get to Saturday’s action!

7th Race Feature Racing The $50,000 Hastings Stakes

The 50k Hastings was a wide open and featured speedsters Miss Dynamic and Aloha Breeze and stalker Blazingbellablu. Those 3 would be the ones who drew the most mutual action with Miss Dynamic and Juan Gutierrez going off as the betting favorite at 9-5, Aloha Breeze with Carlos Montalvo at 2-1 and Blazingbellablu with Alex Cruz at 5-2.

The others in this race were also to be seriously considered included 16-1 Young Life Laura with Javier Matias, 19-1 Silvery Orb and Jose Zunino, Our Lyla Grace at 28-1 with Leslie Mawing, 12-1 Daffodil Sweet and Isaias Enriquez and 11-1 Jamies Inheritance with Allyssa Morales.

The race began as anticipated except for one thing, Miss Dynamic shot out of the gate and was quickly joined by aloha Breeze. They quickly drew off by 5 lengths but they did it at their own peril firing sizzling fractions of 21.21 and 43.58. The track was playing slower today and seemed to be deeper and brutal fractions were not being rewarded on this day and this was the doom of the top 2 favorites in this one.

On the turn the rapid pace was already taking it’s toll as Blazingbellablu on the outside in the clear began to make her move and regular rider Alex Cruz knows this 6 year-old mare better than anyone and on the track he has dominated now for more than 4 years knew exactly where he wanted to be. Bella and Cruz roared up to take the lead as Miss Dynamic was the 1st to throw in the towel and finished last.

Aloha Breeze was holding on a bit better but Young Life Laura split horses and with the Rooster aboard, was serious about pulling the stunner and getting to Blu but ran out of ground by a neck and Blazingbellablu had her 7th Stakes win and 5th at Emerald Downs. (More on Cruz with Bella in the News and Notes below.) Silvery Orb also ran a big race for Zunino found space along the inside and closed well to easily take 3rd and Aloha Breeze settled for 4th.

The final time was 1:09.29 and Blazingbellablu is owned by Petra Lewin and Charles Essex and Essex is the trainer. The pair also bred the 2021 Washington Horse of the Year and is by Grazen out of Bellomesa by Sky Mesa. Blazingbellablu picked up $27,500 and her career earnings are now over the 300k mark at $320,561.

Blazingbellablu and Young Life Laura combined for a $64.32 $1 exacta, a 50-cent trifecta pay of $188.01 with Silvery Orb and add Aloha Breeze for a $2,807.40 $1 superfecta.

Hastings Stakes Race Replay


The rest of Saturday’s card

1st Race

Alexis Silva-Martinez

#5 Confidence Builder was scratched after the race as the 5-year-old mare did not get a fair start and was off late and well behind the other 5 runners. The stewards ruled that Confidence Builder got tangled up with the assistant starter which caused the tardy start.

The 1-5 overwhelming betting choice Reservoir likely would not have been impacted as Carlos Montalvo went straight to the lead and blew out the field by nearly 5 lengths covering the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.73. Reservoir races for Lusk Racing and Alexis Silva-Martinez and trained by Silva-Martinez.

18-1 For You Only with Javier Matias ran a big 2nd to hold off Willing to Burn and Alex Cruz by a neck and Kerrygold Lady and Karlo Lopez ran 4th. Despite the 1-5 winning with the 18-1 running second the $1 exacta paid huge at $19.87 or 18-1, the $1 trifecta paid $101.24 and the $1 superfecta $194.00 all huge pays with a 5 horse field and the 1-5 winner.

2nd Race

2 scratches left 5 to go 4 1/2 furlongs in this 2-year-old filly dash with 4 1st time starters. Trainer Candi Cryderman and owner John Parker sent out 2 starters with Her Blind Side and Alex Cruz the 3-1 3rd choice and Ruby Rendezvous and Karlo Lopez the 4th favorite and both ran well as Ruby took the lead and set fractions of 22.33 and 46.33 but at the quarter pole Cruz and Her Blind Side went rolling on by her stablemate and would clear but then had to hold off a fast closing Shesayshello with Kevin Krigger as the betting favorite at 8-5. Ruby tired but held 3rd and capping the superfecta was 2-1 Lani’s Sweetheart and Javier Matias.

Her Blind Side again comes from the Parker/Cryderman team and ran the 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.17. Her Blind Side paid $8.66, $3.50 and $2.84. The 1st daily double returned $6.

Race Replay


3rd Race

Justin Evans

In the 2nd 2 year-old race for fillies of the day there were 2 late scratches at the gate dropping the field of 8 down to a field of 6. Out of the gate 5-1 Rebel Gal and Kevin Krigger went to the lead and went 22.20 for the 1st quarter but then had to contend with 7-5 betting choice A Thousand Miles and Alex Cruz who overtook the early speed inside the quarter pole. But 28-1 longshot came rolling up on the outside with Leslie Mawing and may have stuck her head in front but Cruz left some reserve in the tank and was able to pull away inside the 1/8th pole to win handily by 3 1/4 lengths in a final time of 59.13 for the 5 furlongs. Company Girl held 2nd and Rebel Gal 3rd with a late run from Coconut Dreams and Javier Matias for 4th.

A Thousand Miles was the only non-1st-time starter in the field running an even 3rd in her 1st start. A Thousand Miles is owned by Bryon Seymore and trained by Justin Evans. This was a Maiden Special Weight race and earned A Thousand Miles $13,680.

4th Race

6 fillies and mares went 5 1/2 furlongs in this $5,000 claiming race and Apricot Brandy won her opening race this year at 18-1 in a maiden claiming contest, then ran a dull effort against winners in her last out. This time Allyssa Morales got the call and sent the overlooked Brandy at 12-1 to the lead where she set fractions of 22.22 and slowed it down to 46.16 which gave her plenty to hold off all challengers including Mumbles Brockman with Carlos Montalvo at 6-1. Apriocot Brandy won it by 1 1/4, followed by Mumbles then came 2-1 Candied Jouole with Silvio Amador and completing the top 4 was favorite Hey Barmaid and Alex Cruz.

Owner/Trainer Jennifer Nunnally got her 2nd win of the weekend winning the finale Friday night and now taking this one in a time of 1:04.70. Brandy paid $27.88, $8.64 and $3.82. The opening pick 4 returned $64.31 and the 50-cent trifecta paid 226.66.

Race Replay


5th Race

The 5th was a $25,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares with 5 going 6 furlongs. 2nd favorite Classic American with Kevin Krigger went to the lead at the bell and never trailed building a lead as big as 6 lengths heading into the stretch and then finished with the largest margin of victory for the year so far winning by a final 10 1/2 length tally finishing in a time of 1:09.82. Classic American is owned by Bryon Seymore and Jeff Plotkin and trained by Justin Evans.

5-1 Bumping River with Francisco Diaz-Lopez was clearly 2nd best with a nice run while Coastal Girl and Alex Cruz was 3rd as the betting favorite at 7-5 and 4th was Leah’s Lute and Javier Matias at 7-1. The $1 daily double paid a decent $46.31 and the 50-cent pick 3 $48.75.

Race Replay


6th Race

Kevin Orozco

A field of 9 were set to go 6 1/2 furlongs for 3 year-olds and up in a starter allowance. Betting favorite was 5-2 Candied Lute and the 7-year-old gelding did not disappoint his backers. Breaking from the 4 hole Kevin Orozco hurried Lute to the lead and quickly expanded his advantage from 2 lengths to 5 entering the stretch to a final winning margin of 6 lengths in a quick time of 1:14.88. Candied Lute is owned by Harley Kowalsky and Serjio Garcia and trained by Elodio Madrigal. Candied Lute is a Washington bred by Lutes Gift out of Sweet Pleasure by Candy Ride and was bred by HorseHaven Creek Farm.

28-1 Hey Sequoia with Isaias Enriquez was the clear 2nd place runner, 8-1 My Sunshine and Carlos Montalvo took 3rd with 14-1 El Chumelito and Leslie Mawing were 4th.  Hey Sequoia paid a big $20.44 to place not quite enough as the largest of the season. This pushed out a $1 exacta $68.28 pay, a 50-cent $288.84 trifecta and a $190.46 dime superfecta. The 2nd pick 4 was $337.35.

8th Race

Scott Tubbs

A field of 6 wrapped up the Saturday racing and 2-1 favorite handed Alex Cruz his 4th win of the day and 6th of the week when he sat early with Scatalicious and then moved about 4 wide to run down Big Jolt and Karlo Lopez who got 1st run but could not deny the late run of Scatalicious who stopped the clock in 1:17.17 for the 6 1/2 furlongs. 3-1 Infinite Love with Carlos Montalvo running 3rd, 4th went to Meteor Shower and Kevin Krigger at 3-1 and 6-1 Rainbow Stew with Luis Reyes 5th to complete the Super High Five.

Scataliciouos races for Camelot Racing and trained by Scott Tubbs. The 50-cent pick 5 paid $849.60 and the 50-cent pick 6 was hit and paid $2,955.28. The Super High Five returned $52.17.

News and Notes

Bella and Cruz
Alex Cruz and Blazingbellablu have a very special relationship as Cruz has been on Bella 19 of her 23 career starts with rides at Emerald and Turf Paradise. Bella and Cruz have combined for a record of 8-6-2-2 from 19 starts with only a 5th place finish keeping them off the board for all 19 runs.

Their percentages are pretty incredible their win percent is 42%, their exacta finish is an eye popping 74%, their trifecta finish rate is 84% and their top 4 finish percent is 95%. Is this the beginning of another Horse of the Year run? We shall see but we wouldn’t count them out.

We’ll start with Alex Cruz again as he scored his 2nd 4-win day of the season and is the only rider to ride multiple winners on both days with 2 on Friday and 4 on Saturday. The 6 wins now extends his most wins of the week to 6 and still has a full day to ride on Sunday. Cruz extended his lead atop the standings to 9 and also takes over the earnings lead with the 1st over 300k at just shy of $340,000. Karlo Lopez is 2nd in both wins and earnings.

In other Jockey news, Kevin Orozco was close on Friday with a pair of wins got one on Saturday, Carlos Montalvo opened the day with his 1st win of the week, Kevin Krigger returned from a 1 day suspension to find the winner’s circle as well.

Morales and Nunnally
Allyssa Morales is the only other rider with more than 1 win this week so far other than Cruz and Morales did it with owner/trainer Jennifer Nunnally in both races. The duo teamed up in the Friday finale with Jim’s Jet and on Saturday they did it again with Apricot Brandy. The bettors were not fooled on Friday sending Jim’s Jet off as the 7-5 favorite but the pair fooled them on Saturday letting Apricot Brandy go at 12-1. It was Morales’s 6th win of the season and Nunnally’s 4th win as an trainer and 3rd win as an owner.

First a Happy Birthday to defending Training Champion Justin Evans and what better way to celebrate than a picture in the winners circle? How about 2 pictures? Evans won the 3rd and 5th races on Saturday and now has 3 for the weekend. Evans trailed former Champ Blaine Wright last week but has come back to take the lead with an 18-14 lead over Wright and also leads in the earnings column.

Elodio Madrigal is off to a great start picking up his 3rd win of the season. Madrigal has started just 7 but is 3-1-1 on the season. Madrigal won the 6th race on Saturday with Candied Lute.

And trainer Charles Essex, the winner of the Hastings Stakes with Blazingbellablu won his 20th Stakes race at Emerald Downs and puts him in exclusive company. Essex is just the 13th trainer to reach that mark. 

Barkley is Back!
Who could forget the big white blaze on the nose of Barkley. Who could forget the Affirmed and Alydar type of battles between Barkley and Mach One Rules? Barkley won the Longacres Mile had a lifetime record of 10-5-1 from 20 lifetime starts for a career bankroll of $368,450. Barkley was retired by his trainer Hall of Famer Howard Belvoir in 2020 with the blessing of his owners the Rising Star Stable.

Barkley retired to the stud farm and his one of his offspring hit the track for the 1st time on Saturday. 2 year-old Company Girl hit the track and did not have a lot of support as she broke from the outside at 28-1 in a 6 horse field. Jockey Leslie Mawing and Company Girl  broke last but quickly had Barkley’s daughter close in 4th and then made a bold move on the turn and may even have taken the lead over betting favorite A Thousand Miles but could not sustain that run but was a clear 2nd.

Owners Bill Nickolos and Constance Woerman with trainer Jose Navarro had to be happy with the effort from Company Girl as no doubt does Barkley’s extended family starting with Papa Belvoir. We’re excited to see if Barkley can be as impactful in his new career as he was on the track.

3rd Race with Company Girl running 2nd to A Thousand Miles









1st Race
Reservoir had multiple claimors and Carol Dronen won the shake to takeover as the new owner and will be trained by Sam Dronen. The claiming price was $2,500.
Kerrygold Lady was taken by owner/trainer Miguel Hernandez
4th Race
Candied Joule goes to new owners Alex and Vincent Ortega and trainer Scott Tubbs for the 5k price tag.
5th Race
Classic American was claimed by Chad and Josh and goes to trainer David Martinez at the $25,000 claiming tag.
8th Race
Infinite Love went to new owner John Parker and heads to the Candi Cryderman barn for $8,000.



By paulb

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