08/25/2011 9:58AM

Emerald Downs: Lads Stakes sees rematch of Premio Esmeralda 1-2

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AUBURN, Wash. – After waging a fierce battle from start to finish in their last outing, Silver Boxcar and Chu and I will renew their budding rivalry Saturday in the $40,000 WTBOA Lads Stakes at Emerald Downs. The eight-race card gets started at 2 p.m. Pacific, and the Lads, for 2-year-old colts and geldings at one mile, is the seventh race on the program.

Silver Boxcar and Chu and I hooked up shortly after leaving the gate in the six-furlong Premio Esmeralda Stakes on Aug. 7, with Silver Boxcar prevailing by a neck after trading front-running punches with Chu and I all the way around the track. They will be joined by seven others Saturday in a race with many contenders, all of whom will be racing around two turns for the first time.

Silver Boxcar, trained by Doris Harwood for Shady Valley Ranch, was unlucky to draw the far outside post position. But Silver Boxcar is blessed with an enormous stride – at nearly 18 hands, he is one of the biggest horses at Emerald Downs – and enough speed to gain a favorable position around the first turn. He will be ridden by Gallyn Mitchell, Emerald’s all-time leader with 73 stakes victories.

Chu and I, more favorably placed in the number 2 post position, already has a stakes victory to his credit. He won the restricted Strong Ruler Stakes by more than five lengths July 4. He faces a much tougher assignment in the Lads, however, with both a larger field (he beat only four in the Strong Ruler) and more formidable opponents standing in his way. Chu and I, a homebred for Mike and Amy Feuerborn, is bred to appreciate the distance. His sire, You and I, was a superb middle-distance runner, and his dam’s sire, Volponi, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Juan Gutierrez has the riding call for trainer Jim Penney.

Del Siete Leguas, who rallied strongly to win a 5-1/2-furlong maiden race in his Emerald Downs debut less than two weeks ago, is another leading contender. Owner Thomas Baze claimed this Forestry colt for $50,000 at Del Mar on July 22 and turned him over to Harwood. Vicky Baze, inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame last Saturday, has the riding assignment.

Others in the field are Italian Boy, a 9-1/4-length winner in a maiden race in his last start; Havana Red, a close second behind Del Siete Leguas on Aug. 14; Gold Surge, a distant fourth in the Premio Esmeralda; and probable longshots Bluegrass Chapp, Wild Wings, and Leadership.