05/28/2012 11:04AM

Emerald Downs: Exclusive Diva cruises in Seattle Handicap


AUBURN, Wash. - A daughter of Bernardini won a stakes race Sunday, which isn’t unusual – but the smashing victory by 3-year-old filly Exclusive Diva occurred at Emerald Downs, where offspring of the influential Darley stallion are seldom seen.

Exclusive Diva, a homebred for Jerre Paxton’s Northwest Farms, toyed with seven rivals in the $50,000 Seattle Handicap. She ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.58, tying the stakes record, and, making her first start since August, finished up like gangbusters to win by 8 1/2 lengths under Juan Gutierrez.

The stakes victory was No. 28 at Emerald for Paxton, the track’s all-time leader, and the second for Exclusive Diva. Trained by Tom Wenzel, she captured the six-furlong Angie C Stakes last summer before finishing a close third in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch in her final start of the year. She remained undefeated at sprint distances with her victory Sunday and established herself as the horse to beat in the next leg of Emerald’s stakes series for sophomore fillies, the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 24.

Exclusive Diva returned $9 as the third choice in the wagering as bettors zeroed in on late-runners Royal Moses, a smashing maiden winner in her 2012 debut, and Talk to My Lawyer, hero of the Gottstein Futurity in September. But an expected pace duel between Exclusive Diva and Golden Gate shipper Lady Hokulea never materialized – Exclusive Diva went right to the front and easily turned away Lady Hokulea at the top of the stretch – and the closers never threatened.

Royal Moses got up to edge Lady Hokulea for the place. They were followed in order by Muchas Coronas, Talk to My Lawyer, Sweet Saga, Reliable Ema, and Mattie Blue.

Exclusive Diva’s dam, Puxa Saco (by Dehere) was a Grade 3 stakes-winning sprinter, while Bernardini stands for $150,000 in Lexington, Ky. Exclusive Diva ran to her breeding in a big way Sunday while pushing her lifetime earnings to $70,605 in four starts.