Sunday’s (5/11) 6F Hastings Handicap (50K) for older fillies & mares poses quite a handicapping challenge for Mother’s Day Emerald Downs (Seattle, WA) patrons. Five of the eight entries are returning from layoffs of 60 days or more & two of the contenders are racing at EmD for the first time.
Leading contender has to be Finding More. Master conditioner Jim Penny is very good at getting horses ready after long layoffs and More’s last three workouts have been sterling, each fastest of the day. More’s previous two efforts last fall (where she lost two races by a total of more than 26 lengths) can at least be partially excused because they were against Graded Stakes competition at major tracks. Prior to that, she ripped off Beyer figures of 81 & 94 respectively, the last of which was in a 50k allowance sprint at Churchill Downs. A repeat of that effort will likely win this affair. This trainer/jockey combination win percentage is excellent as well.
Alan & Susan Branch’s Quizzical is a Southern California invader with plenty of past class as well. Quizzical may have a conditioning edge over this group, having raced 4 times this year (including twice in April), the last of which was just two weeks ago, a 6F 125k stakes race at Santa Anita losing the show in the last two jumps at odds of 26-1. My concern here is will 3 hard races in less than 6 weeks result it her best effort? Her Beyer figures are in a declining pattern & the trainer is winless in 6 tries at Emerald so far this season. The trainer’s dirt & sprint win records are also of concern. Still, one of the track’s best riders is in the irons.
Stopshoppingdebbie seems to be the best of trainer Tom Wenzel’s three enties (Goin to the Window & Blueberry Smoothie being the others) and the best of the local contingent. Stopshoppingdebbie (daughter of the great Curlin) was a monster last year, winning all 5 of her races here, including a sprint stakes win here to open last season. Her last workout was best of the day. Wenzel is very good preparing horses coming from extended layoffs & this trainer/jockey combination is a winner as well. Blueberry Smoothie was right there in stakes sprints last year too, though has been settling for a lesser piece of the pie lately. The rail draw is also of concern, since others seem to have more early speed.
She’s Stella Marie has done her best running on turf, though trainer Jeff Metz has been red hot here & has proven very adept at successfully moving horses from turf to dirt. Her Beyers also seem a bit light to be competitive here, as do those of Madame Pele, Ms. Sutherland & Goin to the Window.
Finding More & Stopshoppingdebbie are my key plays here. Check the tote board to guide which to bet heaviest.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers I’m sure are reading this blog!
Good luck at the races!!
– Ron Classen, email@example.com