(Auburn, WA) The 2016 Thoroughbred racing season has come to an end and finished with redemption for longtime trainer Frank Lucarelli. The feature and final Stakes race of the year was the $65,000 Gottstein Stakes featuring the undefeated So Lucky.
So Lucky came into the race 4-0 and dominating the 2-year-old colts and geldings division. So Lucky is trained by Howard Belvoir who has had quite year with So Lucky, Barkley and The Press winning 7 Stakes races. In 4 of those 7 stakes wins trainer Frank Lucarelli finished 2nd mostly with his extremely talented Mach One Rules to Barkley.
Lucarelli was thinking he might be setting himself up again for a runner up finish to Belvoir’s red-hot 2-year-old colt So Lucky when he entered Owner Darrin Paul’s 2-year-old filly, Blazinbeauty. So Lucky came in as the morning line 2-5 favorite and would go off at 1-9. Blazinbeauty was let go at 6-1.
Blazinbeauty’s jockey Isaias Enriquez took hold of her out of the gate of the 1/1/16th race and sat behind the front running So Lucky. Both Enriquez and Lucarelli knew if So Lucky with Emerald Downs leading rider Rocco Bowen were left alone on the front they probably would have no chance of running him down in the stretch.
Bowen and So Lucky did indeed go right to the front but this time Mixo who had run in the 3 previous stakes races against So Lucky decided to change tactics and by the clubhouse turn was hounding So Lucky just off his right flank. The 2 blazed down the backstretch in 45 and change and Enriquez knew he had the pace he wanted to make a run.
As they approached the far turn Blazinbeauty began to close in gobbling up ground. Enriquez was still trying to hold her but said she was doing it so easily he just want to make sure she had plenty of room and veered her to the outside. Enriquez said he felt like he had the winner at the quarter pole as Blazinbeauty was flying and easily caught the tiring Mixo and had So Lucky in her sights passing her about the 16th pole to pull away for an impressive win.
Lucarelli admitted he was feeling great to finally get Howard (Belvoir) after Howard had his number all meet. He said, “Howard has had a great year with 7 Stakes wins and has some tremendous talent in his barn so pulling off the upset today means a lot.”
When asked if the Gottstein was always in the plans for Blazinbeauty or was it a last second decision Lucarelli said they targeted the race 5 weeks ago after her win in the Shinpoch Stakes. He said he felt she was a 2-turn horse and there were no distance races for fillies so the Gottstein was it where the Gray coated filley was placed and it paid off big time. Lucarelli says after the number of 2nd’s he has had to the Belvoir crew this season snapping a 1-9’s win streak was poetic justice. Blazinbeauty will now be turned out for the winter and Lucarelli says she will be back at Emerald Downs next season.
Who knows if she keeps this pace up she might just become the female Captain Condo. She has the looks and she sure ran like the former Longacres fan favorite, she will be one to watch for sure in 2017.
Year in Review
Sunday was the final live racing day at Emerald Downs for 2016, the 20th anniversary since the track opened under founder Ron Crockett. This was also the 2nd season Emerald has been owned and operated by the Muckleshoot Tribe since purchasing the track from Crockett and his investors of Northwest Racing Associates.
We had a chance to catch up with track President Phil Ziegler and get his thoughts on the season, Ziegler says he was excited again for the live attendance. He says people coming to the track has always been a strength in Western Washington since the days of Longacres and through the last 20 years at Emerald Downs.
Ziegler says it’s always bitter sweet to see the meet come to an end. He says coming to work with such an amazing group of people from horsemen, to breeders, jockeys to the seasonal employees it’s really a great group of people who put on the live racing meet and you miss seeing many of those folks who have to move on to another track or go back to their full-time jobs.
Ziegler says they won’t be sitting around doing nothing this off-season there are big plans and fans that come year-round for simulcast racing will likely see the work they will be doing, The 5th floor is set for a major renovation. The Turf Club area, the restaurant and seating area are all going to be re-vamped. Ziegler says the fans of live racing love the window side seats and tables and so that area will not change but they will be re-configuring the flat area. A card room will also be put in with a new and improved simulcast area and a 5th floor Cafe.
Ziegler says racing fans these days have different priorities than those of the Longacres era and NW Racing Associates were so smart when they designed Emerald Downs. Ziegler says only the 5th floor is going to see significant changes and that’s to better utilize the space and make it more user friendly for more fans. The rest of the facility will see some upgrades and little fix it projects that all facilities need after 20 years of operation.
No doubt 2017 is going to be another great year of racing at Emerald Downs.