05/31/2013 3:23PM

Emerald Downs: Carving could establish dominance with Auburn win


AUBURN, Wash. – Carving, a multiple stakes winner in Southern California, could establish himself as the leading 3-year-old in the Pacific Northwest with a victory Sunday in the $50,000 Auburn Handicap at Emerald Downs. First post for the 10-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

The Kentucky Derby once was in long-range plans for Carving, a Bob Baffert trainee who won his first two starts as a 2-year-old, including a seven-furlong stakes race at Fairplex, and then captured the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park in November.

But Carving’s journey along the road to the Derby was aborted when the colt followed a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate with a dismal sixth-place showing in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March. Shortly thereafter, owners Natalie Baffert, the trainer’s wife, and Olympic gold-medal skier Bode Miller sold Carving to a group headed by Mark Dedomenico of Redmond, Wash.

Dedomenico, who campaigned 2010 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly Blind Luck, keeps a string of horses at Emerald Downs with trainer Mike Puhich, and Carving is the new local stable star. In his first Emerald start May 5, Carving rolled to a come-from-behind victory in a six-furlong allowance race, beating Music of My Soul, a two-time stakes winner at Emerald last summer, by 1 1/2 lengths.

Carving and Music of My Soul are likely to dominate the betting Sunday. Carving was heavily bet in his Emerald debut, going off at 1-2, and Music of My Soul will be attractive after giving Carving a spirited run for his money. Music of My Soul put away his pace rivals, and then fought back gamely in the stretch after getting collared by Carving. Music of My Soul will break from the inside post position with jockey David Lopez, while Carving and Javier Matias will leave from post 5 in a nine-horse field.

Music of My Soul capped the 2012 Emerald meeting with a pair of stakes victories. He took the restricted Dennis Dodge Stakes at six furlongs, and then the one-mile Gottstein Futurity, Emerald’s traditional championship event for 2-year-olds. After being turned out for the winter, Music of My Soul has returned in fine form for trainer Doris Harwood. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 79 for his runner-up effort behind Carving.

Disruption, a new arrival from Golden Gate, could be a factor in the Auburn for trainer Blaine Wright. Disruption, a Florida-bred by Street Boss, won a first-level optional claimer from just off the pace in his last start and will have the riding services of Julien Couton, currently seventh in the jockey standings at Golden Gate.

Completing the field are Finallygotabentley, Whistle Cat, Mike Man’s Gold, Forin Sea, Cariboo Road, and He’s Not Bluffin.