(Auburn, WA) It was another warm day at the races on Sunday but a solid 8 race card highlighted by the 2nd 2 year-old Stakes race of the weekend, this one for the boys the King County Express Stakes for $55,000. A field of 6 went 5 1/2 furlongs in this one and a spectacular run for Vivacious Tribute.

Longtime NW Jockey Connie Doll made her return to riding for her 48th year after missing all of last year re-habbing from injuries. And with the high temperatures the Emerald Downs Promotions Department cancelled the baby races set for Sunday and re-scheduled them for July 21st where it’s hoped for sunny skies but much cooler temperatures. The Promotions department was busy on Sunday though giving away a slew of prizes from $50 betting vouchers to $100 gift cards and more. The promotion was to give away a bunch of prizes on the date 7/7, the luckiest day of the year.

Let’s get to the Sunday races!

7th & Feature Race King County Express Stakes $55,000

A late scratch of Si that Tiger left 6 to contest the 5 1/2 furlongs with the public settling on Big Bowie with Isaias Enriquez as the 6-5 favorite. The thought was front runner Vivacious Tribute may not be able to duplicate his impressive debut where he won the maiden special weight 5+ lengths and set the mark for 4 1/2 furlongs at 50.87. 

Vivacious Tribute didn’t lose all his backers as the 2nd choice at 9-5 and Karlo Lopez who guided him to his career debut win knew what to do in the King County Express Stakes and that was go to the front and play catch me if you can. Vivacious Tribute and Lopez set blistering fractions of 21.51 and 43.97 which certainly set up a stalker or deeper closer but not in this one. Vivacious Tribute had plenty left winning by a clear 1 3/4’s after leading by at least 2 lengths all the way around in a final time of 1:03.79.

Vivacious Tribute is owned by Margaret Root and trained by Blaine Wright. The 2 year-old gelding is a Washington bred by Tom’s Tribute out of Vivacious Beauty by Into Mischief and was bred by Dr Jack Root and Margaret Root. Vivacious Tribute paid $5.76, $4.00 and $2.24 across the board. Vivacious Tribute earned $30,250 for the win to push his earnings to $43,930 and has 2 wins from 2 starts.

Running 2nd in a 3 horse blanket finish was 8-1 deep closer Bodi Zafa with Leslie Mawing. Mawing was pleased with his ride’s effort saying he is going to be tough to handle at longer distances. Mawing was most impressed with how professional he was late in the race squeezing between runners to get his head down for the place. Favorite Big Bowie ran hard and just missed 2nd to settle for 3rd and taking 4th was 5-1 Da Smoke and Carlos Montalvo.

King County Express Replay

ESN talks with Karlo Lopez


The other 7 Sunday Races re-caps

1st Race

Belle Weather w/Juan Gutierrez

2 year-old fillies lined up to run in the Sunday opener with a field of 6 going 4 1/2 furlongs. When gates sprung open a mad scramble for the lead was Lani’s Sweetheart at 7-2 with Javier Matias took the lead, then 9-5 Ruby Rendezvous with Silvio Amador took the lead and then quickly taking it over for good was fellow 9-5 shot Belle Weather with Juan Gutierrez. The fractions were managable at 22.59 and 46.38 leaving plenty for Belle Weather to hold off Lani’s Sweetheart who made another run and settled for 2nd while Ruby Rendezvous took 3rd and Army Knife at 16-1 and Connie Doll up for the 1st time since September of 2022 ran an even 4th. More on Doll below in the News and Notes.

Belle Weather races for Weatherman Stable and is trained by Rigoberto Velasquez and is a Washington bred by Running Tap out of Jet Propelled by Smoke Glacken and was bred by Emily Wilmot. Belle Weather paid $5.90. $3.34 and $2.62.

2nd Race
6 went a mile in the 2nd race and were 15k claimers 3 years-old and up. Trainer Justin Evans had a pair in this one and were the betting favorite 9-5 for Creative Bid and Karlo Lopez up and 2-1 Meant for Me at 2-1 with Kevin Krigger and that’s how they would finish. Both stalked front speed Overly Fast with Carlos Montalvo at 8-1 who set fractions of 22.41, 44.77 and 1:09 flat but that caught up with her as Meant For Me surged by and looked to be the winner but stablemate Creative Bid roared down the outside to get the win in the final strides in a final time of 1:34.88. Overly Fast held off 7-2 Corn Pop and Juan Gutierrez for 3rd.

Rak0czy Racing and Justin Evans own the winner and again Evans trains. The Justin Evans $1 exacta paid $8.79 and the opening daily double cashed for $12.87.

Race Replay


3rd Race

Secret Hottie w/Juan Gutierrez

7 maiden fillies and mares 3 years-old and up ran 6 furlongs in the 3rd event of the day and Secret Hottie took over the lead about 200 yards out of the gate and jockey Juan Gutierrez set some sizzling fractions of 21.87 and 44.51 and lately that likely would have cost you the race but today Hottie kept going and just lasted by a long neck over 1-1 favorite Mocktails Anyone who can’t seem to get that elusive win. She is now 0-4-1 from 6 starts. Meantime, Secret Hottie showed Mock that it’s patience as she finally snapped her maiden in her 10th start as the 3-1 2nd choice. Secret Hottie races for Frank McDonald and trained by Bonnie Jenne who got her 4th win. It was Gutierrez’ 2nd win of the day after taking the opener. Secret Hottie is a Washington bred by Raised a Secret out of Jadelet by Skip Away and was bred by Dr Rodney Orr.

There was a deadheat for 3rd between Bumping River at 7-1 with Francisco Lopez-Diaz and Coastal Girl and Alex Cruz at 4-1. The opening 50-cent pick 3 paid $22.62.

4th Race

Atomic Candy Winners Circle

1 late scratch left 6 to go 1 mile and scratch happened to be one of the front speed runners leaving the front end to the betting choice Atomic Candy with Juan Gutierrez. Guti was shooting for his 3rd win of the day and handled the pace with times of 23.59, 46.29 and 1:10.54 and left plenty for the stretch when he was challenged by Beau Mischief and pulled away for an easy 2 length win in a final time of 1:35.57. 8-5 Atomic Candy is owned by Lusk Racing and  Alexis Silva-Martinez and trained by Silva-Martinez.

Beau Mischief at 5-2 held 2nd, 7-2 Hey Sequoia and Isaias Enriquez was the show placing with Warrens Candy Man at 5-1 and Alex Cruz up taking 4th. The opening pick 4 paid $71.45 and the pick 3 $19.33.

5th Race

Our Lyla Grace w/Leslie Mawing

After a late scratch 5 were left to contest 6 1/2 furlongs in an allowance/optional claiming event and the public got fooled on this one when the longest shot on the board 10-1 Our Lyla Grace and Leslie Mawing allowed all the speed to do their thing while they waited along the inside and at the top of the stretch a hole opened and Grace and Mawing were off with just Creme de Menthe to run down. Creme de Menthe at 3-1 with Karlo Lopez looked like they made a winning move and were on the far outside and rolled up on all the tiring speed and went on by to take a 1/2 length lead but could not fend off Our Lyla Grace in the final 100 yards to lose by a 1/2 length in a final time of 1:15.47. Front runner and favorite at 1-1 Frisco Frills would hold on for 3rd with Allyssa Morales up and taking 4th was 7-2 You Go Girl and Luis Reyes.

Our Lyla Grace races for John Parker and trained by Candi Cryderman. She returned $22.52, $6.72 and $3.72. The $1 exacta paid $38.32 and the 50-cent pick 3 returned $67.98.

Race Replay

6th Race

Firewalker w/David Martin

After the longest shot on the board won the 5th the betting public got it even more wrong in the 6th with the two 13-1 shots running 1-2 in a field of 6. Both longest shots on the board and both ran opposite races with Gunnin for Gold and Alex Cruz out of the gates quickly setting sizzling fractions of 21.76 and 43.89 and had this been 5 1/2 furlongs it wouldn’t have been close but it was 6 furlongs and Firewalker with David Martin rode a patient race and clung to the rail and caught Gunnin for Gold at the 16th pole to win by 3 lengths in a final time of 1:08.52. Gunnin for Gold held on for 2nd by a neck over favorite El Bromista and Karlo Lopez, 5-2 A Skip in the Park with Carlos Montalvo was 4th.

Firewalker races for Rising Star Stable IX and is trained by Howard Belvoir. The 5 year-old gelding is a Washington bred by Daredevil out of Skydeck by Curlin and was bred by Ten Broeck Farms. Firewalker paid $29.00, $12.62 and $5.06, Gunnin for Gold returned $17.70 to place and $8.34 to show. The 13-1 to 13-1 exacta was good for $175.77, the 50-cent trifecta $284.91 and the $1 superfecta $971.60. The 2nd pick 4 of the day paid $1,158.59.

Race Replay

8th Race

Hadlees Honor w/Alex Cruz

To wrap up this week of racing a field of 7 went 1 mile and 7-1 Hadlees Honor with Alex Cruz ran the perfect stalking race sitting a length behind front speed Uncle Juju with Karlo Lopez who set moderate fractions of 24.56, 47.71 and 1:11.71 when turning for home Cruz and Hadlees Honor let loose to engage Juju and rolled on by for a 2 1/4 length win. 4-1 Blues Rapper closed well to be 2nd with Allyssa Morales, Uncle Juju held 3rd, 9-2 Nyquiler with Manuel Americano ran 4th and 4-1 Sport Coat with Juan Gutierrez completed the Super High 5 which did not pay-out and left a $1,281 carry-over for next Friday night.

Hadlees Honor races for Joseph Budinich and is trained by Shelly Crowe who got her 1st win of the season. There were big pays at the end of the night with the 50-cent pick 5 returning $10,248.72, the pick 4 $1,809.04 and the pick 3 $222.09. No one hit the pick 6 which paid $888.19 for 5 of 6 and a carry-over of $7,555 goes to Friday.The 50-cent trifecta paid well of $248.51 and the $1 superfecta $3,364.60.


News and Notes

Connie Doll returns to ride 

Connie Doll

Connie Doll returned to the saddle after missing last year to nagging injuries and this was her 48th year she has saddled up at the track. Her career has been very NW centric riding the most at Yakima Meadows along with Playfair, Portland Meadows, Longacres and smaller tracks or fair meets like Sun Downs, Grants Pass, Coure d’Alene, Great Falls and Harbor Park in Elma and of course most recently at Emerald Downs.

Doll got her 1st win at Emerald Downs in 2003 on July 20th aboard 9-1 Winning Wager trained by Mylo Monson and owned by Lawrence O’Brine. Her last win at Emerald was on September 2, 2022 on Midnight Luter and was the 8-5 favorite. She won that race for trainer Rosie Simkins and owners Lucky K Racing. Doll only rode 4 races in 2022 when she got banged up and was in need of some time off and to fully recover. She had a knee replaced that also held her out for some time.

Doll made her return on Sunday in the 1st race aboard Army Knife for owner Doug C. Carlson and owner/trainer Doug A. Carlson. Doll says she has been working several horses in the morning including several youngsters such as Army Knife so it was pretty special to make her return on one her ponies. Army Knife began in 4th place and ran a very even race finishing 4th.

Doll was just happy to get back in the saddle and even more pleased with the filly’s 1st career run hitting the board. Doll says she is back and will take occasional rides but most of her work will remain in the mornings getting horses ready for the afternoon.

ESN talks with Connie Doll


Juan Gutierrez

Juan Gutierrez came out on fire on Sunday winning 3 of the 4 races and finished with 4 wins to lead all riders for the July 3, 6 and 7 week. 4 riders tripled this week beginning with Karlo Lopez who was 3-4-5-1 from 19 rides and winning the King County Express stakes. Kevin Orozco won 3 including the Angie C Stakes on Saturday aboard Precise Timing. Orozco was 3-0-1-1 from 8 mounts on Wednesday and Saturday. He did not have a ride on Sunday but that should change some minds winning at a 36% clip for the week.

The other 2 with triples included Carlos Montalvo who collected all 3 on July 3rd including the feature race and was 3-1-2-3 from 12 mounts overall. Leslie Mawing won 3, placed twice and ran 4th twice from 11 rides. Mawing also ran big in the King County Express Stakes finishing 2nd at nearly 9-1. Mawing’s average odds on his 3 winners was 13-1 and his average odds on his 3 wins and 2 places was 11-1.

Riders who doubled include Alex Cruz who still leads Karlo Lopez by 12, Kevin Krigger won twice and placed 3 times for an exacta rate of 71% and Luis Reyes had a pair of wins and 5 shows on the week.

ESN talks with Leslie Mawing


In the training race Blaine Wright picked up 3 wins while Justin Evans, Kay Cooper and Elodio Madrigal each had 2 wins. Wright and Cooper also each won a stake this past weekend with Cooper’s Precise Timing taking the Angie C and Wright winning the King County Express with Vivacious Tribute. Wright picked up a win on leading trainer Evans but still trails by 6 in the race for top trainer.

Other notable wins included Dr Ryland Harwood taking the feature race on July 3rd for his 1st win of the year, Other 1st time winners this week inclkuded Shelly Crowe, Dale Koler and Liz Kowalski. Howard Belvoir got a big win with 13-1 Firewalker, Miguel Hernandez remains hot with a win along with Vince Gibson, Bonnie Jenne, Alexis Silva-Martinez, Faustino Patino, Joe Toye, Rigo Velasquez, Steve Bullock and Candi Cryderman.


Both wins for Evans was for himself and Rakoczy Racing to push their total to 7 and they takeover the top owners spot in wins by 1 over John Parker. Rakoczy Racing and Evans are winning at an incredible 50% rate. Parker does lead the owners in earnings with nearly 100k. Margaret sahot into the top 5 in earnings with the stakes win and Vivacious Tribute winning his debut in a MSW while Blue Ribbon #23 is 1 for 1 and #22 in owners earnings at $30,250. Precise Timing won the Angie C as a 1st time starter under a brilliant ride from Kevion Orozco.

Other top owners getting back into the winners circle include Lusk Racing with their 3rd win, Miguel Hernandez with his 4th, Rising Star Stable, Rage #1 and Luigi Di Pietro.






2nd Race
Creative Bid was tagged by new owners Rage #1 and goes to trainer Joe Toye for $15,000.
Overly Fast goes to new owners Ty Leatherman and Justin Evans and Evans will train for $15,000.
4th Race
Atomic Candy was taken by Rancho Viejo and Jerry Carmody for trainer Rigoberto Velasquez for $5,000.
Beau Mischief was claimed by Bob and Bill Rowe and Dan Strojan and goes to trainer Elodio Madrigal for 5k.
Hey Sequoia was claimed by Hon Cheung Kum and goes to trainer Jose Gutierrez for $5,000.
8th Race
Sport Coat was red tagged by owner/trainer Luciano Medina Gabriel for $5,000.
Uncle Juju was taken by owner/trainer Alexis Silva-Martinez for 5k.
Validate was claimed by Austin Evans and goes to the barn of Justin Evans for $5,000.



By paulb

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