AUBURN, Washington – Reigning champion Rocco Bowen notched his fourth added-money triumph of the Emerald Downs season with favourite Sippin Fire, as he dominated the nine-card by riding five winners on Sunday.
Riding in the feature US$50 000 Seattle Slew Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, the 29-year-old raced the three-year-old chestnut gelding off the pace before reeling in the leaders to reach the front in the final furlong, and coast to the wire 2-3/4 lengths clear in a time of one minute, 41.78 seconds.
Longshot Smoothee Lee and Boundary Bay, among the leaders at one stage, receded to finish second and third respectively.
The victory marked the first time in seven career starts that Sippin Fire was going distance, and he showed little sign of fatigue in becoming the season’s first double stakes winner at the Pacific northwest racetrack.
“I lost a lot of sleep the last few nights worrying about the mile and a sixteenth,” Bowen said about the distance.
“I have to give credit to everyone at the barn for an amazing job. This horse is special.”
For Barbadian Bowen, it was his 29th stakes win of his Emerald Downs career, leaving him sixth on the all-time list.
Freibugand Boundary Bay produced the early splits, putting down a decent 23.38 seconds for the quarter and 45.56 for the half, before continuing their battle throughout the mile.
Bowen kept an eye on the leaders from four-wide before sweeping off the final turn, quickly disposing of the leaders and storming to the wire unchallenged.
The two-time defending champion had earlier opened his account in race two over a mile when he combined with 14-5 chanceQue Chistoso, to dismiss the three-year-olds and upward by 2-1/2 furlongs.
He followed up in a six-furlong sprint in race four when he guided 7-4 betCome on Cozzeneto a narrow victory by a head over the three-year-old and upward fillies and mares.
Bowen’s third win was a three-quarter length score over the three-year-old fillies with favouriteBell of Rainierin race five over a mile, and he brought the curtain down on proceedings in style, making all the running with 6-5 choiceHustle and Bustleand just holding off favouriteGran Fiesta, to beat the three-year-old and upward maidens by a head.
Bowen sits on top the jockeys standings on 59 wins, 22 clear of nearest challenger Kevin Orozco.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Canada, veteran Barbadian rider Patrick Husbands put all his finesse on display in a superb late burst with outsiderKingsport, to snatch Sunday’s CAN$100 000 Shepperton Stakes at the prestigious Woodbine track.
Last for most of the 6-1/2 furlong contest, Husbands launched a furious stretch rally with the 18-1 choice, deftly navigating traffic inside the final furlong, to clinch victory by 1-1/2 lengths in a time of one minute, 15.61 seconds.
Jacks Escarpmentran second while overwhelming favouritePink Lloydfinished a disappointing third after leading briefly in the stretch.
“Actually, this was the first year that he got a chance to train early in the spring,” Husbands said afterwards.
“He never ran a jump in his last race, so [trainer] Sid (Attard) decided to cut him back. So my game plan was that there was always going to be speed up front, and give him one run. He gave me 110 [per cent].”
He added: “They were going pretty quick down the back side and I was just hoping that my horse just gave me 100 per cent like what he does on mornings. You get an older horse you would figure that he’s getting smarter in his game so he gave me 110 [per cent] today.”
Husbands and Kingsport were away slowly asBoreal Spiritand Pink Lloyd rushed to the front to dispute the pace through fractions of 22.43 seconds for the quarter mile and 44.86 for the half.
Entering the stretch, Husbands wheeled Kingsport past rank outsiderNupogodiand then took aim at the field. The 44-year-old then opted to switch the six-year-old bay to the inside at the eighth pole, eventually darting through a seam opened up when Pink Lloyd put away Boreal Spirit, before carrying Kingsport confidently to the wire under a hands-ride.
Veteran Attard had nothing but praise for seven-time Woodbine champion Husbands.
“When I saw him so far back, I wasn’t nervous. I knew he was going to come [with a run],” he explained.
“I didn’t know if he was going to get there like he did, but Patrick really gave him a good ride. We’ve had a lot of good luck. He’s won a lot of big races for us.”