07/05/2013 3:44PM

Emerald Downs: E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva go at it again in Boeing

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Emerald Downs
Exclusive Diva outruns E Z Kitty in the Washington State Legislators at Emerald Downs June 9.

AUBURN, Wash. – E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva, the cream of the filly and mare crop in the Pacific Northwest, will meet in Round 4 of their budding rivalry Sunday in the $50,000 Boeing Handicap at Emerald Downs. First post for the 10-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

E Z Kitty, a front-running 5-year-old mare, and Exclusive Diva, a speedy and versatile 4-year-old filly, have traded stakes victories at the meeting. E Z Kitty took the six-furlong Hastings Handicap on May 12 by two lengths, and Exclusive Diva turned the tables in the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators Handicap on June 9. Exclusive Diva also owns the tiebreaker, having defeated her rival in an allowance sprint in April, and is likely to start as the favorite in a race that attracted just four entrants.

The Boeing, at one mile, is the final stepping-stone to Emerald’s traditional filly-and-mare championship, the $65,000 Emerald Distaff at nine furlongs Aug. 18. The Emerald Distaff has been a magnet for shippers from both Northern California and British Columbia, but until those challengers arrive, Exclusive Diva and E Z Kitty are likely to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the division.

Exclusive Diva, a Jerre Paxton homebred, has won 7 of 11 starts, all at Emerald Downs, and had very little problem making the transition from age 3 to 4. She recorded a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 85 in her first start of this year, and covered 6 1/2 furlongs in the Washington State Legislators in a brisk 1:14.88.

By the influential stallion Bernardini, Exclusive Diva is on the small side – barely 15 hands, according to trainer Tom Wenzel – and perhaps slightly better at sprint distances. She captured the one-mile Irish Day Handicap for 3-year-old fillies last summer but subsequently was upset by Champagneandcaviar in narrow losses in the 1 1/16-mile Kent Handicap and the 1 1/8-mile Washington Oaks. Juan Gutierrez, who has been aboard for each of Exclusive Diva’s starts, has the call again in the Boeing.

E Z Kitty, who began her career in a $7,500 maiden claimer, has changed hands a couple of times during a career that has yielded 10 wins in 19 starts. Her current ownership group, Highlander Racing Stables, purchased E Z Kitty this spring from trainer Mike Chambers in Arizona and turned her over to Jeff Metz. E Z Kitty hasn’t skipped a beat under Metz’s care and is likely to set the pace in the Boeing, with Exclusive Diva in close pursuit.

Champagneandcaviar, after her brilliant 3-year-old season, has yet to get untracked in 2013. She joins Gosailgo, a recent allowance winner at Hastings, as outsiders in a compact field.