05/16/2013 12:27PM

Emerald Downs: Allowance races Saturday showcase potential

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AUBURN, Wash. – On a busy Saturday at Emerald Downs, a pair of allowance races will complement simulcast wagering on the Preakness Stakes as Kentucky Derby hero Orb zeroes in on the second leg of the Triple Crown. The nine-race program begins at 2 p.m. Pacific, and the Preakness runners will break from the Pimlico starting gate in Baltimore at about 3:20.

Two jockeys with local ties, Kevin Krigger and Gary Stevens, have mounts in the Preakness. Krigger, who captured the Emerald Downs riding title in 2005, will pilot Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents for trainer Doug O’Neill. Stevens, who obliterated every single-season riding record at Longacres in 1984, has the call on Oxbow for D. Wayne Lukas.

In the co-featured seventh race at Emerald, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds with a $25,000 optional claiming price, a pair of recent maiden winners, Boyett and Whistle Cat, will dip their toes into deeper waters against more seasoned, stakes-placed runners Finallygotabentley and Cariboo Road over six furlongs. And in the eighth race, Stopshoppingdebbie, who overwhelmed a field of maidens in her only start as a 2-year-old last summer, will make her much-anticipated season debut against older fillies and mares in a 5 1/2-furlong, second-level allowance with a $40,000 optional claiming price.

Boyett zipped to an impressive victory in his debut April 20, kicking away through the stretch to win by nearly four lengths while running 5 1/2 furlongs on a surface labeled wet-fast in 1:02.57. The Chris Stenslie trainee returned two weeks later to run third in an allowance race won by Carving, a newcomer from California who very nearly landed a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby. The speedy Boyett will face a slightly softer group Saturday, even if Finallygotabentley and Cariboo Road figure to be formidable.

David Lopez, off to a quiet start in his first season at Emerald Downs, has the riding assignment on Boyett, who will break from post 4 in a six-horse field. Lopez had won with 8 of his first 64 mounts heading into the three-day weekend and was fifth in the jockey standings.

Stopshoppingdebbie will tackle five rivals in the eighth race as she gets tested for class in her first start of 2013. In her maiden victory last August, Stopshoppingdebbie put away a pace rival on the turn and coasted home to win by seven lengths while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 70. That’s exceptional for a 2-year-old filly, but Stopshoppingdebbie will have to step it up Saturday to get the measure of Carrabelle Harbor and Sis’s Sis, who have five stakes victories between them.