Today is closing day at Emerald Downs and we’ve got 11 races to finish off our 20th anniversary season! Below are Race 5-11 selections. All 7 races will be shown on TVG today. Race 5, the first of seven races analyzed below, begins the 20 cent Pick 7 wager, while Race 7 begins the 20 cent Pick 5! Both wagers will have a mandatory payout!
Race 5: #2 LOTS OF PRAYERS won last week against the hard-knocking HEZA WITCH DOCTOR and wheels back quickly for a try at one more win before the 2016 Emerald Downs meet comes to a close. Trainer Charlie Essex wins with 33% of his runners making a 1-7 day turnaround and it’s definitely a good sign that leading rider Rocco Bowen hops aboard for this race. #4 JEN’S JAG was in a speed filled 5 furlong dash on August 13, showed the most early zip out of anybody before taking the field gate to wire. Today’s distance is 6 furlongs, but 3 of the 7 wins in ‘Jag’s career have come at this distance, which means the added distance should not be a huge issue. That said, he has not had a workout since that race, which is a minor concern, and Rocco Bowen, who rode this gelding to that August 13 win, hops off to ride our top choice. #6 WINE AT NINE was terrific when defeating a solid group of claimers on August 27. In fact, the third place finisher in that race came back to lose by a nose yesterday. Wine At Nine will need to improve to have a shot at winning this race but there’s no reason why he can’t be around at the wire if he puts his best foot forward. (SELECTIONS: 2-4-6)
Race 6: #3 KELLER’S GOLD broke his maiden in career start #3, defeating ASK NOT and HART MOUNTAIN, both who came back to win next time out. Facing winners for the first time, Keller’s Gold finished second in The Washington Cup Stakes for 2-year-olds and was unlucky to run into 2-year-old star SO LUCKY that day; ‘Lucky will be heavily favored in the Gottstein Futurity later on. It would seem all Keller’s Gold has to do is run his race and he’ll probably be pretty tough to beat. #8 STORMIN’ PROMISE won her first start by over 7 lengths, which was impressive considering her trainer, Jeff Metz, rarely has his runners cranked up in their first career start. This gal came back to run a better-than-looked fourth in The Barbara Shinpoch Stakes and now drops in class while sporting a steady work tab. One to keep an eye on. #2 MYLADYSABITSHADY is a wildcard possibility. She looked pretty awesome breaking her maiden by over a half dozen lengths last time out. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if she moves forward after that wins for trainer Doris Harwood, who does well with 2-year-olds. (SELECTIONS: 3-8-2)
Race 7: #4 TIMBERFALLER was claimed by trainer Blaine Wright on July 31 after an uncharacteristically poor start. The winner of that race, THE PRESS, won a stakes race on Washington Cup day. Wright, who wins at a 21% clip with runners making their first start off the claim, freshens Timberfaller for this race and has worked him steadily since that poor effort. Looking for him to rebound here. #5 WANDO CAT may be inconsistent, but his best effort makes him a major player. The two times he has run at this level, he produced two big races. Believe it or not, one of those losses was a neck defeat behind our top choice. The son of Wando won an allowance race three starts back and drops to this level after a fifth place finish in The Emerald Downs Derby. Leading rider Rocco Bowen hops aboard to add to the appeal. #8 JOHN PAUL’S BET is a longshot to consider. He showed promise when he was younger and, even though he hasn’t lived up to high expectations at age 3, has finished behind some tough runners in past starts. He drops in class here and could run well at a price. (SELECTIONS: 4-5-8)
Race 8: #4 SO LUCKY looks to become the first Emerald Downs 2-year-old to win 4 stakes races and 5 races in a season. This colt has been lightning quick in all four career starts and looked flawless cruising down the lane in his last race, where he won by 9 lengths. The main question is whether he can run a winning race at a mile and a sixteenth, which is today’s distance. His dam, Miss Pixie, was a stakes winner who won going a mile in The Finlandia Handicap at Del Mar. ‘Lucky’s sire, Coast Guard, broke his maiden at one mile and finished third in the mile and an eighth Santa Anita Derby. If anybody can beat So Lucky, it might be the filly, #2 BLAZINBEAUTY, who had all sorts of traffic issues in The Barbara Shinpoch Stakes before eventually finding a clear path to roll and powering to the front late. She was much the best. This gal is bred to love two turns and we expect her to do some damage against the boys today. #7 MIXO has always been well regarded and finished behind our top choice in his 3 career starts. Mixo’s dam, Valour Road, finished second in this race in 2002. (SELECTIONS: 4-2-7)
Race 9: #8 HE’S CAGEY looks to become a six-time winner at the meet. He hasn’t sprinted in some time, but it’s hard to ignore his terrific form. He ran a career best race last week when beating a decent group by over a half dozen lengths after setting a fast pace. Sure, he might bounce…but we think high percentage trainer Blaine Wright knows this guy has one more big race in him before the end of the season. Absolutely the one to beat. #4 PERFECT NIGHT has run three terrific races at this level and looks to put up one more big effort before the meet ends. He has hit the board in 7 of 8 starts going this quirky six and a half furlong distance and is a tactical; he can head to the lead or stalk if the pace gets too hot. Look for him to be in the mix. #6 MISTER BREEZE is a hard knocking horse that always gives an honest effort. He needs to improve to win this race, but there’s no reason why he can’t hit the board with another one of his decent efforts. He’ll complete our trio of selections. (SELECTIONS: 8-4-6)
Race 10: #5 IMPECCABLY left a hole in the wind last time out when blowing away her competition, heading straight to the lead and opening up without being asked to win by 8 and a half. An effort anywhere close to that and she’ll be tough to deny. #3 BELLALI has run well in all four starts this meet for trainer Manny Ortiz, who has won with 17 of his 53 starters (32%) at the 2016 Emerald meet. Clearly, it’s best to keep an eye on any Ortiz runner that hits the track. #2 ANITEWITHYOU drops in class for today’s race and has run well against tougher. Last time out, Anitewithyou ran fourth behind LIVE LIKE MIKE, who came back to be in a three horse photo for the win in a 10k claimer. (SELECTIONS: 5-3-2)
Race 11: Rocco Bowen has had an absolutely outstanding meet and it would be fitting to see him take the last race of the season with #6 WICKED LAUGH. Like most, I don’t enjoy picking 0 for 19 maidens. That said, she has run well behind some runners that would be super tough if they ran in this race, and it’s also worth noting she takes a minor drop in class. #5 CHEZZELWIT makes her career debut here for trainer Alan Bozell, who wins at a 20% clip with first time starters. If this filly can run at all, she might be able to do some damage in final race of the 2016 Emerald Downs season. #9 CUTE TALKER has steadily improved and ran the best race of her life last time out, getting edged out for the win late to lose by a head. She stretches out an extra half furlong here. (SELECTIONS: 6-5-9)
A big thank you to all of the fans, horseplayers, horsemen, and Emerald Downs staff for an amazing 20th anniversary season. See you all next year!!!