07/13/2012 2:26PM

Emerald Downs: Gutierrez will ride in both stakes on Sunday's card

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mario Gutierrez has accepted five mounts on Sunday's card at Emerald Downs.

AUBURN, Wash. – Mario Gutierrez will stop at Emerald Downs on Sunday as he makes his way north to Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., where the jockey of the moment plans to ride for the balance of the summer. Gutierrez, whose Triple Crown dream was aborted when I’ll Have Another suffered career-ending injuries before the Belmont Stakes, has mounts in five of the nine races and will ride both halves of a stakes doubleheader for 3-year-olds.

Gutierrez has ridden just 24 winners in 2012, but thanks to his partnership with I’ll Have Another – highlighted by his rousing victory over Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby – his mounts have earned more than $3.6 million. He stood 16th in the rider standings at Hollywood Park entering the final week of racing and elected to skip “getaway day” there Sunday to ride Regal Betty in the $50,000 Kent Handicap for fillies and Edge Forward in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap for colts and geldings. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.

Regal Betty, who was trained by John Sadler in California and will be handled by Mike Puhich at Emerald Downs, would seem to have a fighting chance in the Kent, though she will have to find a way to solve the dominant pair of Exclusive Diva, a two-time stakes winner at the meeting, and Royal Moses, who closed resolutely to finish second behind Exclusive Diva in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 24.

Regal Betty last started March 25, when she faded to finish fifth, beaten 18 lengths, behind Princess Arabella in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks. Princess Arabella was undefeated in three starts for trainer Bob Baffert before being retired with an injury, and Regal Betty no doubt will appreciate the softer company. In her prior start, she rallied smartly to win the one-mile Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise.

While bettors zero in on Exclusive Diva, Royal Moses, and Regal Betty, a possible upsetter could emerge in Smokin’ Grey, who followed a smashing maiden victory in May with an easy victory in a second-level allowance sprint in her first try against winners. Trained by Frank Lucarelli, Smokin’ Grey will be making her first start around two turns and her first start in a stakes race.

In the Seattle Slew, Makors Finale and D’honorable One will renew their spirited rivalry in the final major preliminary before the nine-furlong Emerald Downs Derby on Aug. 12. After those two finished in a dead heat for the win in the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Handicap on June 3, the front-running Makors Finale held off D’honorable One by three-quarters of a length in the one-mile Coca-Cola Handicap on June 24. Edge Forward finished six lengths back, but could improve sharply in his fourth career start.