06/02/2013 9:15PM

Emerald Downs: Finallygotabentley takes Auburn Handicap

Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs Photos
Finallygotabentley (inside), with Juan Gutierrez aboard, wins Sunday's Auburn Handicap.

AUBURN, Wash. – Finallygotabentley raced to a mild upset Sunday in the $50,000 Auburn Handicap for 3-year-olds at Emerald Downs, a race that had its field reduced to eight starters when Music of My Soul, the second choice in the wagering, was scratched after apparently injuring himself in the starting gate.

Finallygotabentley ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.28 to prevail by a length over Disruption. They were followed by 3-5 favorite Carving, He’s Not Bluffin, Cariboo Road, Mike Man’s Gold, Forin Sea, and Whistle Cat.

Finallygotabentley recorded his second victory in nine starts for owners Northwest Farms and Debbie Paxton. A homebred by Bertrando and out of Washington champion 2-year-old filly Smarty Deb, Finallygotabentley had largely been a disappointment in his previous starts, finishing second six times and losing five races as the betting favorite.

Yet Emerald Downs’s leading jockey, Juan Gutierrez, elected to stick with Finallygotabentley for the Auburn Handicap and was rewarded with a problem-free trip and the colt’s first stakes victory. Finallygotabentley paid $13.40.

“There were a couple of speeds in the race,” said Gutierrez, who had Finallygotabentley forwardly placed and hugging the rail from the outset. “He was pulling a bit, so I let him run … When I asked him at the quarter pole, he responded.”

While Finallygotabentley took a step forward with his effort, Carving took a step backward. Undefeated in three previous sprints, and at one time a Kentucky Derby hopeful in Bob Baffert’s barn, Carving had no apparent excuse Sunday. He had the length of the stretch to put away Disruption and get by the front-running Finallygotabentley but could not muster the necessary kick. Carving is now trained by Mike Puhich.

Music of My Soul had finished second behind Carving in an allowance race May 5 and was considered a leading contender. But he acted up before the start, unseating jockey David Lopez, and, after a quick look from the presiding veterinarian, was withdrawn.
Finallygotabentley earned $27,500, pushing his career mark to $80,468.

Emerald’s leading 3-year-olds could be seen next in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap at one mile June 23.