06/09/2013 8:13PM

Emerald Downs: Exclusive Diva takes Washington State Legislators Handicap

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AUBURN, Wash. – Exclusive Diva zipped to an impressive victory Sunday at Emerald Downs in the $50,000 Washington State Legislators Handicap for fillies and mares.

In winning for the seventh time in 11 starts, Exclusive Diva disposed of her nemesis, E Z Kitty, and four others to win by 1 1/4 lengths. She ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.88 and paid $5.20.

Leading up the Washington State Legislators, Exclusive Diva and E Z Kitty had traded victories in their first two starts of the meeting. Exclusive Diva prevailed an allowance race April 21, and E Z Kitty took the Hastings Handicap on May 12, drawing away to win by two lengths. That effort helped make E Z Kitty an odd-on favorite Sunday.

Plus One, hustled from the inside post position, set the early pace, with E Z Kitty and Exclusive Diva tracking her on the outside. Exclusive Diva advanced three-wide around the turn under jockey Juan Gutierrez, spurted past E Z Kitty and Anne Sanguinetti with a quick burst of speed nearing the furlong marker, and held safely to the wire.

E Z Kitty finished three-quarters of a lengths in front of Gosailgo, who finished third. She was followed by Castinette Dancer, Plus One, and Champagneandcaviar.

Exclusive Diva, a homebred for Jerre Paxton’s Northwest Farms and co-owned by Debbie Paxton, added $27,500 to her bankroll. Exclusive Diva, by Bernardini, has earned $184,571.

Exclusive Diva continued a remarkable early-season run for trainer Tom Wenzel, who has accounted for three consecutive stakes victories. Wenzel saddled Stopshoppingdebbie to win the Seattle Handicap on May 26 – in which Wenzel-trained horses ran first, second, and third – and took the June 2 Auburn Handicap for 3-year-olds with Finallygotabentley. Wenzel also trains the speedy 4-year-old Makors Finale, likely to be among the favorites June 16 in the Budweiser Handicap.

The Emerald calendar includes 24 more stakes races, giving Wenzel a chance to close in on the single-season record for stakes victories by a trainer. Doris Harwood set the record with 12 stakes victories in 2007 and equaled that mark in 2009.