07/20/2012 4:51PM

Emerald Downs: Mt. Rainier offers opportunity for St Liams Halo to run without speedy stablemate


AUBURN, Wash. – While he’s not exactly ducking his celebrated stablemate, St Liams Halo figures to enjoy his chance to run in a race that doesn’t include Taylor Said. After three consecutive losses to his speedy nemesis at Hastings, St Liams Halo will start as one of the favorites Sunday in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs.

The top handicap horses in Vancouver have traded blows on fast tracks and wet tracks, from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, and each time, the speedy Taylor Said has emerged victorious. Taylor Said was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for his 4 1/2-length victory in the Johnny Longden in May, and a 98 for his two-length victory in the Winston Churchill Handicap last month. Yet Glen Todd, who co-owns the pair with Patrick Kinsella, is still partial to St Liams Halo, the 2011 horse of the year in British Columbia.

“I’ve thought all year that he’s a better horse than the other one,” Todd said. “But the other guy keeps proving me wrong.”

By separating the horses now, trainer Troy Taylor is giving St Liams Halo an opportunity to regain his winning form in advance of his chief summer objective, the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19. Trainer Mike Puhich, who is based at Emerald, will saddle St Liams Halo on Sunday.

“I talked to Mike this morning, and it was thunder and rain and lightning,” Todd said Friday. “He doesn’t like the off track. But he’s going to start either way, because we need to get him in. I can’t run them together again here; you’ll never get in. But I think he’ll do fine, I really do.”

Todd purchased St Liams Halo during the summer of his 3-year-old season with designs on the British Columbia Derby.

“I bought him privately out of Chicago from Michael Stidham two years ago. I bought him to run in the derby, but he had a slight shoulder crack,” Todd said. “He was coming to the Longacres Mile last year but he got a hot nail in his foot and we had to scratch him. And he ran a pretty good race last November at Hollywood, but he stepped on a stone and bruised his foot real bad. That’s why he started later than my other horses at Hastings. He was about a month behind them. He ran two good races, except he ran into the other guy.”

Mario Gutierrez will ride St Liams Halo on Sunday, and could be back aboard in the Longacres Mile, even if Taylor Said appears to be the stronger of the two.

“Mario loves him,” Todd said of St Liams Halo. “If he had his choice, he’d ride Liam. He’s a lot like me: He believes he’s a better horse.”

Talk to My Lawyer first time for tag

Talk to My Lawyer, expected to be among the leading 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs, will try to get back on track Sunday in a first-level optional claimer at six furlongs, and for the first time in her career, she will run for a claiming price. She’s available to be purchased for $40,000.

Trainer Chris Stenslie has been trying to coax a representative effort out of Talk to My Lawyer since her first start of the year, when she won a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race with relative ease. But Talk to My Lawyer faded to finish a distant fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong Seattle Handicap in May, and then was eased in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 24 after failing to respond to jockey Leslie Mawing’s urgings.

“She was fine after the race,” Stenslie said. “Leslie said she just threw in the towel and didn’t want to run. You’ll see that with older horses, but she’s only 3, and she’s had a light campaign, so I don’t really know why she was so reluctant. In the mornings, she’ll go two miles and target horses all the way, so I don’t really know what’s going on with her right now.”

Stenslie said Talk to My Lawyer, who defeated males in the Gottstein Futurity last September, sustained a bruised foot in a training session following the Irish Day, and that’s why she skipped the Kent Handicap last Sunday. She will face just four rivals, but it’s a competitive group, with recent maiden winner Once Upon a Song the likely favorite.

Emerald’s 3-year-old filly division was thrown wide open last week when 28-1 shot Champagneandcaviar won the Kent Handicap, and a quick reversal by Talk to My Lawyer could put her back on the list of leading contenders for the nine-furlong Washington Oaks on Aug. 11.

Injured jockey slowly recuperating

Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores, injured in a spill July 13, is a week or more away from a return to riding, agent Ken Greene said Friday. Camacho-Flores suffered facial lacerations and a deep contusion on his left arm when he was unseated from his mount, Send Silver, nearing the five-sixteenths pole. Original reports that Camacho-Flores had sustained a broken arm were unfounded.

“When the horse bobbled, he threw his head back and hit him right in the face and knocked him off the horse,” Greene said. “That messed his face up, and then the horse clipped him when he went down. It was a bit of a trauma, to say the least.”

“He’s doing a lot better in the last day or two. They removed the stitches from his lip Thursday. His arm is black and blue from top to bottom. We’re playing it day by day. I doubt if he’ll ride next week. He goes back to the doctor on Thursday, and we’ll take it from there.”