(Auburn, WA) Jack Hodge has been a huge supporter of the Washington State thoroughbred industry for decades spending the last 20+ years as the Vice-President of Northwest Racing Associates and current VP of Operations for the Muckleshoot Tribe and prior to that as an active owner and breeder at Longacres. Hodge joined forces with Ron Crockett as they recruited investors to build the new home (that’s already 20-years old) in Auburn, Emerald Downs. The Muckleshoots Tribe took over ownership last year.
Well it took time but Hodge and his Oak Crest Farms Stable have never had a day like he did on Sunday and neither has his trainer David Martinez or journey-man jockey Javiar Matias. There were 4 Stakes races on the card and the 3 had entries in the first 3 races but outside of their group not many had confidence they would have much of a day at all.
It began in the Emerald Express with Mixo. Mixo, a 2-year-old was the only 1st time starter in the field of 5 that featured over-whelming favorite The Chilli Man and solid 2nd choice So Lucky. So Lucky popped out of the gate with Mixo right behind and that’s how they would finish. So Lucky won by 3 lengths over a good effort from the 1st time starter. Jockey Javier Matias told Hodge he believes Mixo will beat So Lucky if they meet again. Hodge told us that Javier was higher on Mixo than either of the 2 horses he had in the next 2 races. The public in this race bought into The Chilli Man making him the 2-5 favorite but he had to be pulled up and did not finish the race. Mixo was dismissed at 11-1 the 3rd choice in a 5-horse field but ironically would be the lowest odds horse the trio would saddle on this day.
In the next race, the Angie C Stakes, named after former track president Ron Crockett’s mother. Oak Crest would saddle Karula and just like in the Express, Karula was making her 2-year-old and career debut in a Stakes race. This time there were 11 horses going to the gate and many with experience so Karula would start at a morning line of 12-1 but would not gain much attention and broke from the gate as a 31-1 shot.
Matias wasted no time in clearing the field with a fast break. Hodge was concerned a lengthy loading process with 11 2-year-old fillies might take the edge off Karula but his concerns were quickly diminished as she pulled away to a 3 and half length lead heading into the far turn of the 5 and half furlong event. At the top of the stretch Karula was extending her lead with every stride to 8 lengths and won by an eye popping 11 lengths.
Hodge says he was not surprised because he knew he had a good one and had been training good. He credited the fillies’ maturity and focus for the performance and said she proved herself behaving like a seasoned veteran with the extra long gate loading process.
In their final start of the day in the Boeing Handicap Guinevere’s Finale drew the 6 hole in a big 12-horse field. Again the public snubbed the trio figuring they have already had a big day and it had to stop here and let G-F go off at 23-1.
In this race unlike in the Angie C, Matias was key to the win with a great ride. Matias broke in mid-pack and held firm while the front speed dueled. As they entered the far turn Matias and G-F were down on the rail and Matias could see the front speed starting to back up a little. It was at this time Matias had to make a critical choice of either staying on the rail or looking for room to his outside. He chose to stay on the rail and as they swung for home the rail opened up like the parting of the Red Sea and Matias pressed go and G-F burst threw on the rail and would win by 3/4’s of a length over 15-1 Morning Coffee for back-to-back Stakes wins. In a betting note the back-to-back Oak Crest Farms Daily Double paid $520 for the $1 ticket.
Hodge told us he has had 2 Stakes wins in a single day before but never back-to-back and he has never run in 3 Stakes races in one day so to finish with 2 wins and a 2nd was indeed a first for all three. Oak Crest Farms chalked up nearly $62,000 in purse money but more importantly a day of memories Hodge, Martinez and Matias will likely never forget.
Oak Crest Farm Photo Gallery