09/20/2012 3:56PM

Emerald Downs: Blueberry Smoothie looks tough in Barbara Shinpoch Stakes


AUBURN, Wash. – The $50,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, originally scheduled for Aug. 26 but postponed when the race failed to attract enough horses, will go as the feature race Saturday at Emerald Downs. Blueberry Smoothie is likely to start as a short-priced favorite in a field of five.

With the meeting down to its final two days, horsemen flooded the entry box Wednesday morning, and Bret Anderson, Emerald Downs’s director of racing, was able to write an 11-race program with 89 horses – an average of 7.9 runners per race. Average field size through the first 79 days of the 81-day meeting was 6.3 horses per race, and since Portland Meadows began its summer meeting July 15, the average has dipped to 6.0 starters per race.

Blueberry Smoothie began her racing career in late July with a romping victory in a maiden race for trainer Tom Wenzel and then finished a close second behind stablemate Goin to the Window in the six-furlong Angie C. Stakes on Aug. 5. Both fillies were bred by owner Jerre Paxton, and Paxton has another leading 2-year-old filly, Stopshoppingdebbie, who might have been formidable in the Barbara Shinpoch. But Paxton and Wenzel are leaving both Goin to the Window and Stopshoppingdebbie in the barn while taking their best shot with Blueberry Smoothie.

All three of Paxton’s fillies are royally bred. Blueberry Smoothie is by Giant’s Causeway and out of the multiple stakes winner Shampoo, by Gulch. Last week at Keeneland, Paxton sold a half-brother to Blueberry Smoothie for $360,000.

Blueberry Smoothie has been remarkably versatile through two starts, coming from well of the pace to win her maiden race by nearly five lengths and then dueling for the lead from the opening jump in the Angie C. before giving way to finish second by a length. Jockey Juan Gutierrez, who was up for her maiden victory but rode Goin to the Window in the Angie C., will be back aboard Saturday.

Blueberry Smoothie drew the inside post in the 6 1/2-furlong race, with the speedy Song of Seattle to her immediate right. If Gutierrez elects to reserve his mount, or if she breaks poorly, Blueberry Smoothie may have to work overtime to catch both Song of Seattle, who finished far back in the Angie C. after lunging at the start, and Innocent Love, an impressive maiden winner in her last start. Blueberry Smoothie easily defeated Innocent Love in July, but Innocent Love seems to be a much-improved horse and the most likely to spring an upset should the favorite falter.