09/17/2007 11:00PM

Cup Day ends with fireworks

EmailAUBURN, Wash. - Favorites won all seven of the stakes on Washington Cup Day last year, and the chalk-fest continued for much of Sunday's Washington Cup V program.

First, No Constraints ($3.60) won the six-furlong Diane Kem for 2-year-old fillies by 5 1/4 lengths, then it was Firetrail ($2.80) winning the one-mile John and Kitty Fletcher for 3-year-old fillies by 4 1/4 lengths. Margo's Gift ($5.60) was just the second choice when he won the six-furlong Captain Condo for 2-year-olds by seven lengths, but Chickasaw Park ($4) won the six-furlong Chinook Pass Sprint by 4 1/2 lengths as the favorite, and Mulcahy ($4.60) was favored when he got up to win the 1o1/16-mile Trooper Seven for 3-year-olds by a half-length.

What was a longshot player to do? Just stick around, as it turned out, because things got interesting when the purses rose from $45,000 to $50,000 for the last two stakes on the card.

Hit a Star had won 9 of 21 starts, but she had never even contested a stakes before going off at better than 10-1 in the 1 1/16-mile Belle Roberts for older fillies and mares. She was hardly intimidated, using her speed to open a six-length lead after a half-mile in 46.60 seconds and then coasting home to score by three lengths over heavily favored Gemstone Rush. The second choice, She's All Silk, who was expected to battle Hit a Star for the early lead, finished eight lengths farther back in third.

"I was dreaming of getting her stakes-placed," said Hit a Star's trainer, Doris Harwood. "I didn't dare dream she would win, but she deserves it. She is all heart."

Hit a Star ($23.40), a 5-year-old daughter of Ihtimam who races for Golden Aggie Ranch, did indeed deserve her stakes win. Her clocking of 1:41.20 not only bettered Queenledo's stakes record of 1:41.80, it equaled the fastest 1 1/16-mile time ever recorded by a filly or mare at Emerald Downs. Youcan'ttakeme and Dinner at Arlene's share the mark.

About the only thing that wasn't surprising about Hit a Star's victory was that Harwood saddled her. It was the record 11th stakes win at the meeting for the trainer, who sent out Margo's Gift to win the Captain Condo earlier on the card. The record before this season was eight, held jointly by Bud Klokstad and Steve Bullock.

Harwood will have one more chance to bring her total of stakes wins at the meet to an even dozen, and it is an awfully strong chance. She will saddle both Margo's Gift and the outstanding filly Smarty Deb for the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 29.

Exclusive Eagle has his day

The featured Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at 1 1/16 miles brought another surprise, this time courtesy of Exclusive Eagle. The 4-year-old Exclusive Eagle had not won since coming from far off the pace to win last year's Seattle Slew Handicap at 25-1, so he was dismissed at better than 8-1 meeting five accomplished rivals on Sunday.

Nonetheless, Exclusive Eagle ($19.20) inherited a short lead when the pacesetting Reno Ringo was pulled up on the backside, forfeited the advantage to defending champ Norm's Nephew on the turn, then battled back through the stretch to post a three-quarter-length victory in 1:41.80 under rider Gallyn Mitchell.

"Every year he has his Rocky Balboa day," said trainer Craig Roberts. "I told his owners, Don and Judi Gardiner, that this would be a tough year for him. He would be a 4-year-old meeting older horses, and he would be playing catch-up. I guess he finally caught up, but it helped a lot that The Great Face wasn't in the race."

The Great Face, who won the Mt. Rainier and the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in his last two starts, was forced to miss the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic because of a mild soft-tissue injury in a front leg. It was a disappointment for trainer Tom Wenzel, and Roberts could sympathize, because he lost the probable favorite for this year's Mile, Westsideclyde, just weeks before the big race.

Roberts said Westsideclyde has undergone surgery to remove a bone chip and repair cartilage damage in a knee.

"The surgery was very successful," said Roberts. "I'm looking forward to getting him back to the races next year."

Roberts said Exclusive Eagle will be turned out, and will resume training here in the spring.

A day for stakes records

Seven different riders won the Washington Cup stakes, and Harwood was the only trainer to win two. Owner Charlie Dunn also won two stakes - the Diane Kem with the Tim McCanna-trained No Constraints and the John and Kitty Fletcher with the Junior Coffey-trained Firetrail. Both of the fillies were bred at the owner's Dunn Bar Ranch.

An extremely glib surface contributed to four stakes records. In addition to Hit a Star's mark in the Belle Roberts, No Constraints (1:09.40) and Margo's Gift (1:08.40) set records for the Diane Kem and the Captain Condo, respectively, and Firetrail (1:35.20) set a stakes record for the one-mile John and Kitty Fletcher.

Leach to be remembered

A celebration of the life of Dale Leach, who died last Sunday in Yakima at age 72, will be held Friday at Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms from noon to 9 p.m.

Leach was the longtime farm manager for Northwest Farms and an influential leader in the state's breeding industry.

Northwest Farms is located near the airport at 2712 S. 16th in Yakima.