08/15/2011 8:56AM

Emerald Downs: Oaks falls Class Included's way

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AUBURN, Wash. - After collaring a couple of tiring speed horses on the far turn, Class Included dug in bravely to hold off fast-closing longshot Playful Argument for a neck victory Saturday in the $65,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs.

The victory was especially sweet for owners Mike and Amy Feuerborn of Maple Valley, Wash., who bred the winner with the Oaks in mind. A Classic Life, Class Included’s dam, won the 2005 Oaks for the Feuerborns, and Class Included was her first foal.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite in a seven-horse field, Class Included ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.76 and paid $3.80. Playful Argument, a 16-1 outsider, finished second, three lengths in front of Soul in One, who rallied from last to finish third. The Gang and I, Judging Mimi, and early pacesetters Elusive Noise and Carrabelle Harbor, the 2-1 second choice, completed the order of finish.

Class Included, trained by Jim Penney, became the only 3-year-old filly to win more than one stakes race at Emerald in 2011. She captured the 6 1/2-furlong Seattle Handicap in May, and then finished second in both the one-mile Irish Day Handicap, a neck behind Elusive Noise, and the 1 1/16-mile Kent Handicap, a length behind Carrabelle Harbor. The scales tipped in Class Included’s favor in the Oaks, however, when Elusive Noise and Carrabelle Harbor hooked up in a torrid speed duel – carving fractions of 22.86, 46.16 and 1:11.24 on a dull surface – before retreating. Class Included and jockey Leslie Mawing seemed to be headed toward an easy victory after the leaders gave way, until Playful Argument made things interesting in the final furlong.

“I was really stoked about her workout last week, so I was coming into the race pretty confident,” Mawing said of his mount. “I didn’t want to be overconfident because you really have to respect Elusive Noise and Carrabelle Harbor; I knew those two would show speed. I asked my horse to pull back a little bit before the first turn and she relaxed right away. I was sitting comfortably on the backside and just waited. I got the lead at the top of the stretch with plenty of horse. Once I committed to the lead, there was no turning back.”

Class Included earned $35,750, pushing her career bankroll to $100,750 for the Feuerborns, whose horses have won 18 stakes races at Emerald Downs. Class Included, by Include, is almost certain to be named the meet’s top 3-year-old filly when awards are handed out in late September. The Oaks was the season’s final open stakes race for 3-year-old fillies, and Class Included, bred in Kentucky, isn’t eligible for the restricted John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes on Sept. 12.