06/07/2013 2:45PM

Emerald Downs: E Z Kitty may grab golden rail in Washington State Legislators Handicap

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Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo
E Z Kitty will look to win the Washington State Legislators Handicap for the second time on Sunday.

AUBURN, Wash. – E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva, who stand head and shoulders above the rest of the filly and mare division at Emerald Downs, will renew their budding rivalry Sunday in the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs. Only four others were entered to face the likely favorites, with Castinette Dancer, down from Hastings in Vancouver, British Columbia, offering the best chance for an upset.

Emerald’s 11-race card gets under way a half-hour earlier than usual at 1:30 p.m. Pacific, and the Washington State Legislators will go as the eighth race on the program.

E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva are similar horses, gifted with tremendous speed as well as the staying power to win stakes around two turns. E Z Kitty has taken a more unusual career path, changing ownership a couple of times while working with four different trainers at Emerald and Turf Paradise. Exclusive Diva, meanwhile, has never ventured from her home base or from Tom Wenzel’s barn.

Together, the two have combined to win 16 of 28 starts while earning nearly $340,000. E Z Kitty has five stakes victories, including a win in the Washington State Legislators last year, and Exclusive Diva has three.

E Z Kitty, now handled by trainer Jeff Metz, prevailed in the most recent meeting between the two, taking the six-furlong Hastings Handicap by two lengths on May 12, and could get a similar setup Sunday. E Z Kitty did a lot of the heavy lifting that day, putting away rivals in a speed duel and then fighting back in the stretch after being joined by Exclusive Diva. But E Z Kitty also benefited from a prevailing Emerald track bias that has rewarded inside speed horses over the past month.

E Z Kitty’s chances for a repeat victory received a boost when she drew inside of Exclusive Diva again in the Washington State Legislators – she will start from post 4 with jockey Anne Sanguinetti, while Exclusive Diva will break from the outside under Juan Gutierrez.

Others in the field include Plus One, Castinette Dancer, Gosailgo, and Champagneandcaviar. Plus One was a distant third in the Hastings Handicap in her Emerald debut and is liable to give an improved effort in her second start following a three-month layoff. Castinette Dancer won an allowance sprint at Hastings in her first start of 2013 and packs a punch in the stretch. The task is taller for Gosailgo, who won a restricted stakes race at Hastings in 2012, and Champagneandcaviar, who hasn’t raced since September.