(Auburn, WA) More than 9,000 fans packed Emerald Downs on Wednesday night for the annual 3rd of July Fireworks Spectacular. Racing began at 5pm and had 8 races on the card and the public showed up to do more than just watch Fireworks as they also wagered $1,206,648, second only to the 1.3m bet on Father’s Day.

There was something for everyone on the track from favorites to an 18-1 winner, front speed and a last to 1st winner. Carlos Montalvo thrived winning 3 races while the top riders Alex Cruz and Karlo Lopez both were shut out of the winners circle.

Let’s get to our coverage of a great day of racing and fun at Emerald Downs.

Feature Race 7th Race

8 went postward in the 3rd of July Spectacular feature race and 8-1 Whiskeyjack who last ran in October in his only career start at Grants Pass and won at 5-1 was making his 1st start of 2024. Carlos Montalvo got the ride and at the break looked like Jack would need more work as he broke last and was quickly 13 1/2 lengths behind the field going 6 furlongs. 

Montalvo took Jack straight to the rail and began to save ground and for much of the race Whiskeyjack wasn’t even in the picture. However, the battle on the front end gave Jack a huge chance setting fractions of 21.13 and 43.97 and set up the closers. Favorite Dynamic Secret with Juan Gutierrez appeared to have ridden the winning ride sitting just behind that front speed and taking 1st run pulling out to a 1/2 length lead and had all the momentum.

What Guti didn’t see was Whiskeyjack and Montalvo winding up and expertly weaving between runners without checking and the speeding locomotive came roaring up the inside and collared Dynamic Secret at the 16th pole and opened up a 1 1/4 length win at the finish line in a final time of 1:09.07.

Spinnin Pistols with Jose Zunino at 7-2 ran a very respectable 3rd and was clear of 4th place 12-1 Where You Gonna Go and Javier Matias who did well to hold 4th after setting those blazing early fractions.

Whiskeyjack is owned by Lee and Connie Erickson and trained by Dr Ryland Harwood. Jack is an Oregon bred by Rise Up out of Our Lindsay by Victory Gallup and was bred by the Erickson’s.

Whiskeyjack remains undefeated with 2 wins in 2 starts and picked up the $14,535 winners share of the purse to push his earnings to $25,535. Whiskeyjack rewarded his backers with an $18.42, $8.90 and $4.44 across the board pay-out. It was Carlos Montalvo’s 3rd win on the night winning in the 1st and 6th then taking the 7th so the Montalvo $1 daily double paid a whopping $242.28.

Feature Race Replay


The rest of July 3rd races

1st Race

Liz Kowalski

A filed of 6 went 6 furlongs to kick off the 3rd of July Spectacular and appeared to have several wanting the early lead but only 5-1 Mary Walker with Carlos Montalvo went for it and quickly separated from the other 5 with a length lead to the top of the stretch. Mary Walker set fractions of 22:09 and 44.60 but still had plenty left and extended her lead to 2 lengths at the 1/8th pole. The 4-year-old filly did start to get tired in the final yards but it was too late winning by 3/4’s a length over 5-2 Parco with Alex Cruz. 2-1 favorite Cielo Diamonte with Luis Reyes was 3rd and Red Nova at 7-2 with Neptali Ortiz was 4th.

Mary Walker stopped the clock in 1:09.94 races for Elizabeth Kowalski and trained by Liz Kowalski. Mary Walker paid $13.28, $7.04 and $3.86 and the $1 exacta paid 26-1 of $27.53, the 50-cent trifecta $27.03 and the $1 superfecta $145.20.

2nd Race
Two late scratches left just 4 to go to the post at the 5 1/2 furlong distance and the two 1-1 favorites broke well and shadowed each other to the line where only a neck separated the paid. Nomi Lackee with Luis Reyes was on the rail and Meteor Shower and Alex Cruz just to her outside as they set times of 22.32 and 45.44 and neither would give in. As they hit the top of the stretch they were head and head and in the final 10 yards Nomi Lackee came back and surged just enough to get the neck win in a final time of 1:03.81.

The duo was more than 12 lengths in front of 3rd place Apricot Brandy at 5-1 with Alyyssa Morales and 10-1 Forest Acclimation and Leslie Mawing. Nomi Lackee is owned by Serjio Garcia and trained by Elodio Madrigal. The 1st daily double of the day paid $15.25 and a consolation double of $5.67.

Race Replay

3rd Race

Kay Cooper

6 3 year-old and up fillies and mares went 6 1/2 furlongs at a claiming price of 25k. 2-1 2nd choice Nation’s Belle with Isaias Enriquez ran a perfect stalking trip and then out-classed the field rolling to an easy 3 length win in a final time of 1:16.13. Nation’s Belle is owned by Blue Ribbon Racing #21 and trained by Kay Cooper. Nation’s Belle is  Washington bred by Nationhood out of Belltown Beauty by Spreightstown and was bred by Mr and Mrs Frederick Pabst.

Yogya the favorite was 2nd with Karlo Lopez, 9-1 Ropersandwranglers with Allyssa Morales took 3rd and 5-1 Unbridled Scholar with Kevin Orozco finished off the superfecta. The 1st pick 3 paid $25.78.


4th Race
Surprsinglyperfect was the overwhelming 1-5 favorite and Kevin Krigger knew what to do with the 10 year-old gelding and that is let him do his thing. He did not disappoint winning his 20th career victory and 3rd of the 1st horse to win 3 times at Emerald Downs this season. He’s run 4 times and now has 3 wins and a 2nd all 3 wins were with Krigger aboard. Surprsinglyperfect sat just off the pace for the 1st 1/2 mile of the mile race then took over and blew out the competition with a huge 6 1/2 length win in a final time of 1:34.39, just missing the fastest 1 mile time of the season which is 1:34.04. Rakoczy Racing and Justin Evans are the owners and Evans trains.

Jin Tong and Alex Cruz ran 2nd at 5-1, Mr Love Muffin ran 3rd at 7-1 with Kiaman McGregor and taking 4th was 19-1 Westphal and Silvio Amador. The pick 4 paid $43.65.

Race Replay


5th Race

Mangia Pane

7 went a mile and front runner Mangia Pane with Juan Gutierrez did everything right keeping the odds on favorite and the rest of the field at bay to roll to a 2 length victory in a final time of 1:35.72. Mangia Pane first repelled fellow speedster Secret Saga and Luis Reyes at 5-1 just outside the 16th pole when Karlo Lopez came running with Laura’s Kidough but had no answer for Mangia Pane but would take 2nd. Secret Saga was 3rd and 12-1 Westerberg with Jose Zunino ran on late for 4th.

Mangia Pane went off at 3-1 and races for Luigi Di Pietro and trained by Faustino Patino. Mangia Pane was bred in Washington and is by Ministers Wild Cat out of Ghost Tree by Cahill Road and was bred by DiPietro Thoroughbreds.


6th Race

Vince Gibson

A field of 7 3 year-olds and up went 6 furlongs and 18-1 Moonlightnwine with Carlos Montalvo spoiled the party with a brilliant rail run and ran down everyone for the 2 1/2 length victory. Moonlightnwine finished the 3/4’s mile in 1:08.81 less than a second off the fastest 6 furlongs of the year. Moonlightnwine is owned by Joan Hutchison and Jim Leslie and trained by Vince Gibson. Moonlightnwine paid $38.38, $15.16 and $7.34.

2nd choice Handr’sdream and Kevin Krigger held on to 2nd by a nose over 25-1 Mahi Mahi and Kevin Orozco wkth 4th place going to Mister Mafioso at 6-1 and Juan Gutierrez up. The $1 exacta paid $112.88, 50-cent trifecta $417.31 and the $1 superfecta $3,916.30. The 2nd pick 4 paid $563.03.


8th Race

The 8th race was a field of 7 going 6 furlongs and 7-2 2nd choice Libby’s Gambit with Kevin Orozco wore down overwhelming odds-on favorite Sensible Lute with Jose Zunino getting up in the final strides to win by a neck. That pair was well clear of 3rd place Lady Mormont also at 7-2 with Alex Cruz and 10-1 Always Gallant and Karlo Lopez ran 4th and Many Memories at 21-1 with Kiaman McGregor completed the Super High 5.

Libby’s Gambit stopped the clock in 1:10.74 and races for Rally Cap Stable and is trained by Blaine Wright. Libby’s Gambit a 4 year-old filly is a Washington bred by Rallying Cry out of Libby Creek by Langfuhr and bred by Allaire Farms. Libby’s Gambit capped off a nice 50-cent pick 5 that paid $4,954.86, the pick 4 was huge as well paying $3,920.04 and the 50-cent pick 3 $367.95. No one hit the pick 6 and left a $2,020 carryover and the Super High 5 paid $54.68.

Race Replay


News and Notes

Jockeys, Trainers and Owners

Carlos Montalvo

Carlos Montalvo had a spectacular night winning 3 of 4 mounts and pushed his win total to 18 and in 3rd place and his win percent went from 19% to 22%. Montalvo was the only rider with multiple wins. It is the 1st day of the season that neither Alex Cruz or Karlo Lopez have won a race. The others getting wins were Luis Reyes, Kevin Krigger, Isaias Enriquez, Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Orozco.

Owner/Trainer Liz Kowalski got both her 1st win as a trainer and owner in the opener with front runner Mary Walker. Dr Ryland Harwood also got his 1st training win of the season in the feature with 8-1 Whiskeyjack, owners Lee and Connie Erickson also got their 1st win as owners. Leading trainer Justin Evans did get a win in the 4th with Surprisinglyperfect and 2nd place Blaine Wright took the finale and owners Rally Cap Stables got their 1st win.

Elodio Madrigal got his 4th training win with Nomi Lackee in the 2nd for owner Serjio Garcia the 3rd time this team has scored this season. Kay Cooper got her 6th victory and Blue Ribbon #21 their 2nd win. Faustino Patino got his 2nd training win and owner Luigi Di Pietro as a sole owner his 1st win. Vince Gibson scored with an 18-1 shot Moonlightnwine for his 8th win while owners Joan Hutchison and Lim Leslie got their 2nd picture taken.

10-Year-Old Magic!

10-year-old Surprsinglyperfect is in his final year of competing at least in Washington State and Bay gelding Kentucky bred is showing no signs of slowing down. Surprsinglyperfect was claimed as a 10 year-old last Spring at Turf Paradise by Rakoczy Racing and Justin Evans and is under the care of Evans.


Always a gamble to take a 10 year-old at the claiming box and for 10k but it has paid off for Rakoczy and Evans. It didn’t look like a good claim as he ran 6th and 5th at Turf Paradise before shipping north. To say Surprsinglyperfect likes the Northwest and Emerald Downs is a huge understatment as he is now 3-1-0 from 4 starts at Emerald Downs and is the 1st horse to win 3 times this season. 

The coonections ran him at the 8k claiming level with Kevin Krigger and won by 7 3/4 lengths at 2-1. In his next Luis Reyes got the call and ran 2nd in a $10,000 claimer as odds on. Krigger was available to ride again the next time out and got back aboard in another 10k claimer and once again rolled to a 5 1/4 length win at 3-1. Then last night the duo would go off as the 1-5 odds-on at the $25,000 level and blew the field away to win by 6 1/2 lengths.

Surprsinglyperfect is not only the 1st horse to win 3 races but he is also the only horse on our wins by largest margins list. To make our list you must win by 5 or more lengths and now he is on our list 3 times. Only one other horse is on the list more than once and that’s Frisco Frills. 

Surprsinglyperfect is now 20-13-13 from 82 starts for a 24% win rate, 40% exacta rate and 56% trifecta finish. He has banked $300,222 in his career. $34,283 of that total is from his 4 races at Emerald Downs. Surprsinglyperfect has been just that and likely has another 4 or 5 starts left in him this season and is clearly the early leader for claimer of the year. 

Surprsinglyperfect will be fun to watch and see what heights he still has in him and is clearly easy to root for this fantastic story unfolding in his final season.







1st Race
Cielo Diamonte goes to new owner John Parker and the barn of Candi Cryderman for the claiming price of $3,500.
Mary Walker heads to Harris Farms for trainer Debbie Peery for the $3,500.
Parco has a new owner and trainer and he’s both Miguel Hernandez took Parco for $3,500.
6th Race
Handr’sdream goes to Shelley and Glen Davis and heads to the Tena Birdwell barn for $15,000.
Lie and Deny was tagged by Rakoczy Racing and Justin Evans and Evans will train for $15,000.


By paulb

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