08/15/2011 7:25AM

Emerald Downs Derby taken by 10-1 shot Jebrica


AUBURN, Wash. - Jebrica realized his vast potential at a most opportune time Sunday, racing to an emphatic victory in the $65,000 Emerald Downs Derby as a 10-1 outsider.

Trained by Jim Penney – who completed a weekend Oaks-Derby double – Jebrica had never finished better than third in three previous stakes appearances, but the lightly raced son of Liberty Gold had given glimpses of his talent during his 2-year-old season, when he raced just three times, and again this year, when he won an allowance sprint before finishing a fast-closing fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap in his last start before the derby.

Jebrica’s victory came as a $23 surprise to handicappers who figured the Derby would boil down to either Couldabenthewhisky, a four-time stakes winner and a troubled second in the Seattle Slew, or Zayda, a late runner who came in riding a two-race winning streak. Couldabenthewhisky did his part, sweeping past the front-runners to take the lead turning for home, but Zayda, the 6-5 favorite, never got involved and finished fourth, more than 13 lengths behind the winner.

Jebrica’s winning margin was 2 3/4 lengths. Couldabenthewhisky finished second, 8 1/4 lengths clear of Winter Warlock, who was followed by Zayda, Rainier Missile, and Kooky Saluki. The winner covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.17 and earned $35,750 for owners Ron and Rosalie Warren of Olympia, Wash.

Winter Warlock dueled with Rainier Missile early, zipping through the first six furlongs in 1:10.59, a rapid pace that set the table for Jebrica and jockey Pedro Terrero.

“I sat behind the speed and tried to stay as quiet as I could,” Terrero said. “I started to ask him to go right before the quarter pole, and he really responded.”

Penney, a member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, became the first trainer to win the Washington Oaks and Emerald Derby in the same year since Dave Forster turned the trick in 1997 with Oaks winner Capilano and derby winner You’ve Got Action. Penney saddled Oaks winner Class Included on Saturday.

Kay Cooper, who runs day-to-day operations in Penney’s barn, said Jebrica likely would start next in the Grade 3, $200,000 British Columbia Derby at Hastings on Sept. 11.