09/06/2013 3:50PM

Emerald Downs: Chu and You formidable on Washington Cup Day


AUBURN, Wash. – While the race for horse-of-the-meeting honors at Emerald Downs has narrowed to two standout contenders – Herbie D, who captured his only two local starts in brilliant fashion, and the undefeated 3-year-old filly Stopshoppingdebbie – Chu and You could make a compelling case for consideration with a victory Sunday in the $50,000 Northwest Farms Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

The Northwest Farms is one of six $50,000 stakes on Washington Cup Day, all for statebreds, highlighted by the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic.

Unbeaten and essentially untested in three starts, Chu and You is likely to start as the prohibitive favorite in the six-furlong Northwest Farms. It’s a good situation for trainer Robbie Baze, who had gone quite a while without an Emerald stakes victory before owners Mike and Amy Feuerborn transferred their homebred filly to his barn earlier this summer.

In rapid succession, Chu and You won a maiden race by nearly six lengths, captured the six-furlong Angie C Stakes by nearly five lengths, and raced to another gate-to-wire victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Barbara Shinpoch Stakes two weeks ago. Chu and You will make her fourth start in 57 days Sunday, having given Baze every indication that she can retain her sharp edge in what looks to be her toughest test to date.

Trainer Junior Coffey will have two starters, including Da Burn, a powerful maiden winner in her last start, and trainers Doris Harwood, Frank Lucarelli, and Dan Markle boast viable contenders.

“It looks like it’s going to be a tough race, with a couple of Junior’s in there,” Baze said Friday morning. “Da Burn is going to be tough with the speed she’s got. But I’m pretty confident. Chu and You has trained well up to this race. I think she’s going to put a big effort forward.”

A heavy workload hasn’t fazed his star filly, Baze said. In fact, Chu and You has moved forward out of each of her starts, the trainer said. Nor is Baze overly concerned about the possibility of a wet racetrack following heavy rains Thursday and Friday and more rain in the outlook for Saturday.

“She’s been very sharp,” Baze said. “I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t had any issues – no sickness, no shins, no feet. Health-wise, she’s been great. The last time I led her over there she was bouncing more in the paddock than she did the first two times. We haven’t had to run her or work her on a wet track, but she’s a smaller filly and she seems to handle everything well. I think on a wet-fast racetrack, her speed should be very tough.”

Baze said he wasn’t sure how much horse he had after Chu and You’s first workout, but everything changed in her second work when Baze sent her out in company with regular rider Juan Gutierrez aboard.

“I worked her the first time and she came back tired,” Baze said. “And then I worked her in company, and the other horses couldn’t keep up with her. Juan was just sitting on her. If you look at her last work before her first start, it was 1:02 and three-fifths in company. She was nice and relaxed, and then when she passed the wire, Juan gave her head and she was six in front. In that work there, she stayed relaxed and galloped out strong.”

Gutierrez may not have to worry about passing horses if Chu and You breaks alertly from post 8 in a nine-horse field. Da Burn will start from post 4, with Coffey’s other entrant, Belladiva, in gate 3. Sanibel Harbor, a pace-pressing second in her debut, will break from the rail for Markle.

Said Baze: “I like being on the outside, because if the others try to go hard with her she’s going to be on the outside of them, putting pressure on them instead of the other way around. We’ll see if somebody can go with her. It doesn’t look like Juan has had to ask her yet.”

In other races on Washington Cup Day:

◗ Del Rio Harbor will shoot for his third consecutive stakes victory in the Daily Racing Form Dennis Dodge Stakes at six furlongs. Del Rio Harbor ran his best race to date in the WTBOA Lads Stakes on Aug. 17, setting fast fractions to discourage his pace rivals and then easily holding off Debossman and Noosito through the final furlong. Those two rivals will take another crack at Del Rio Harbor, as will the speedy Stikine Slough, who romped to an 18 3/4-length maiden victory in his last start.

The Dennis Dodge is named for the late, longtime Daily Racing Form Northwest correspondent.

◗ Music of My Soul and Mike Man’s Gold, the top two finishers in the Seattle Slew Handicap on July 14, headline the Jim Beam Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings at one mile. Music of My Soul is unbeaten in two starts at the distance, and that should not be surprising: Music of My Soul is a full brother to Noosa Beach, winner of the 2010 Longacres Mile.

◗ E Z Kitty can wrap up divisional honors as Emerald’s top older filly or mare with a victory in the Pegasus Training Center Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. A romping winner in the nine-furlong Emerald Distaff in her last start, E Z Kitty is likely to start at a short price, with Cielator her most serious adversary. Cielator won this race in 2012, when it was known as the Belle Roberts, and is coming off a snappy allowance victory in which she ran six furlongs in 1:08.57.

◗ Madam Pele and Beautranda are the leading contenders in the Comcast Sportsnet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile. Madam Pele is the only stakes-placed runner in the nine-horse field, but like Beautranda, Madam Pele is still looking for her second career victory.