09/16/2011 3:07PM

Emerald Downs: Key defection benefits Newfound Man, He's All Heart


AUBURN, Wash. – Newfound Man and He’s All Heart are the horses to beat Sunday in the $40,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic, the marquee event on Washington Cup Day at Emerald Downs. A six-stakes showcase for horses bred in Washington, or sired by stallions standing in the state, the Washington Cup races attracted 40 entrants, only one of whom has won a stakes race in 2011. That list will grow by at least five by the end of the day Sunday. First post is 2 p.m. Pacific.

The task for Newfound Man and He’s All Heart was made less daunting with the announcement by trainer Doris Harwood that Noosa Beach, the undisputed king of the local handicap division, would skip the Muckleshoot and run instead in the $100,000 British Columbia Premier’s Handicap on Oct. 2 at Hastings. Noosa Beach, runner-up in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in his last start, would have been a short-priced favorite in the Muckleshoot. Now the favorite’s role in the 1 1/16-mile test could fall to Newfound Man, who won a stakes race at the distance in 2010, or He’s All Heart, who finished third in the Muckleshoot, behind Noosa Beach, a year ago.

Newfound Man, trained by Blaine Wright for owners John and Janene Maryanski, is winless in four starts this year, but his most recent effort, a fast-closing third in an allowance sprint, should set him up nicely for Sunday’s race. He will be handled by Leslie Mawing, who is closing in on his first Emerald riding title.

He’s All Heart, owned by a syndicate fronted by veteran Northwest handicapper Victor Cozzetti, has yet to break through against stakes company and most recently was third after a troubled trip in an allowance race. He will have a new rider as Juan Gutierrez replaces Gallyn Mitchell.

In other Washington Cup races:

◗ Harbor Wind, coming off back-to-back victories, headlines the $35,000 Dennis Dodge Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 6 1/2 furlongs. In his most recent start, Harbor Wind breezed to a nine-length victory in an allowance race restricted to graduates of Washington yearling sales. He faces a tougher assignment Sunday, with stakes-tested runners Gold Surge and Wild Wings the leading challengers.

◗ The Gang and I looms a short-priced favorite in the one-mile, $35,000 John and Kitty Fletcher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Gang and I was a close fourth in the nine-furlong Washington Oaks last month in her first start following a two-month layoff, and then ran down some speedy fillies to take a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race Sept. 5. She’s trained by Jim Penney, who won the 2010 Fletcher with Sis’s Sis.

◗ Semele, a maiden after two starts, could start favored in the $35,000 Diane Kem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. A close third behind the promising Ronda Rocks in her last start, Semele is the only horse in the Kem who has yet to start for a claiming price. Shesatopballerina, who won by nearly five lengths on a muddy track in her only start, is the leading challenger.

◗ Zenovit, who won both the Washington and British Columbia Oaks last summer, shoots for her first 2011 victory in the $35,000 Belle Roberts for older fillies and mares. The 1 1/16-mile race attracted a field of six, with Zenovit and Sweet Nellie Brown likely to dominate the wagering. Sweet Nellie Brown finished second in the Emerald Distaff last month but was off the board in an allowance two weeks ago.

◗ Showme Yourfriends is the one to beat in the one-mile, $35,000 Chinook Pass Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings. He’s the only Washington Cup entrant with a stakes victory in 2011 – he captured the six-furlong Auburn Stakes at 50-1 in May – and comes into the Chinook Pass off a smart victory in a six-furlong allowance race last month.