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Emerald Downs: E Z Kitty headed to Turf Paradise
By Nick Rousso
AUBURN, Wash. – Having turned back all challengers in her past two starts at Emerald Downs, E Z Kitty left the Pacific Northwest this week, shipping first to Barretts Racing at Fairplex Park in Pomona, Calif., and then on to Turf Paradise in Phoenix, where, if all goes according to plan, she will make her next start in the $35,000 Princess of Palms Stakes on Oct. 12.
E Z Kitty dominated the older filly and mare division at Emerald this summer, capturing three stakes races, including the nine-furlong Emerald Distaff on the Longacres Mile undercard. In her final parting shot, she crushed statebreds in the Pegasus Training Center Stakes last Sunday while running 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.43. That effort earned E Z Kitty a Beyer Speed Figure of 92, the best of her career.
Trainer Jeff Metz was thrilled, and understandably so. It seems E Z Kitty, a 5-year-old He’s Tops mare, is just hitting her best stride. Once a headstrong sprinter with bad habits in the paddock, E Z Kitty has morphed into an efficient runner with a high cruising speed and a calm demeanor. In the Pegasus Training Center, E Z Kitty and jockey Anne Sanguinetti sat chilly behind pacesetter Cielator before taking over with a quick burst of speed around the second turn and kicking away to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
“She ran her career best, a 90, the prior race, so we worried about a bounce,” Metz said. “But she came right back and got a 92 Beyer and ran a very similar race. She put her main rival away at the quarter pole two times in a row. I think sometimes mares reach their peak in the middle of their 5-year-old year. When she came to me, she had a reputation of being really high strung, but she has really settled in. She’s not wasting any effort, and her races are playing out that way, too.”
Metz, who lives in Southern California and spends winters in Phoenix, has big plans for E Z Kitty, who is owned by Bruce Maller of Incline Village, Nev. Maller purchased the mare from trainer Mike Chambers in a private sale this spring. Her Pegasus victory moved her career record to 12 victories from 22 starts and increased her lifetime earnings to $263,340.
“She’ll run at Turf Paradise, and then the connections and I may take a shot out of town, either in the Midwest or at Santa Anita in the fall,” Metz said. “We’d like to test the waters to see how good she might get. The Catch 22 is, do you strike while you’re hot, or do you rest and try to find that zone again? The plan right now is to go with her. She did it effortlessly last time and came out of it great. In the test barn, she wasn’t really blowing hard. So right now, it’s all systems go.”
Noosito targets Futurity
Noosito, who edged stablemate Del Rio Harbor after a race-long speed duel in the $50,000 Daily Racing Form Dennis Dodge Stakes last Sunday, is likely to start next in the $75,000 Gottstein Futurity on the final day of the meeting, Sept. 29.
Noosito improved his record to 2 for 3, and had excuses for his lone defeat, when he broke slowly and rushed into contention. He got away poorly yet again in the Dodge, but weathered the storm with jockey Isaias Enriquez to prevail by a neck.
“I was pretty impressed, after the slow break,” trainer Doris Harwood said. “We went to the starting gate today to see if there’s anything I could do to help him break better. But the gate crew said he was standing straight, but got impatient, put his head down at the wrong moment and broke a little tardy. But I was really pleased with the ride Isaias gave Noosito, and also the ride Rocco Bowen gave Del Rio Harbor. I knew I had the speed, we discussed it in the morning, and I told both riders, ‘Let’s settle this down the lane.’
“It was unfortunate that Rocco lost his whip in the final sixteenth. He was disappointed in himself; it may have been a different result. But they both ran fast, they went 1:09 and change. You can’t ask more of two babies than that. These are both game horses.”
Harwood will have options on “getaway day.” In addition to the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity, there’s a sprint stakes for 2-year-olds on the card, the $50,000 Cahill Road Stakes at six furlongs.
“I’m probably going to nominate both horses for both races,” Harwood said. “I’m in a wonderful position. Both of these horses are bred to go long, and they obviously have shown sprinting talent. The Futurity is the most prestigious to win, and Del Rio Harbor has a chance to be the champion 2-year-old no matter what he does. But right now, I’d say we’re leaning toward the Futurity for both of these colts.”
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