09/15/2011 2:29PM

Emerald Downs: Plenty willing to take shot at big money in Washington Cup


AUBURN, Wash. – Underdogs will be plentiful Sunday at Emerald Downs as horsemen give chase to $215,000 in purse money being offered in six Washington Cup stakes races. The races are restricted to horses foaled in Washington or sired by stallions standing in the state, and with a limited number of stakes-caliber runners to draw from, the fields are stacked with maidens, erstwhile claimers, and other outsiders.

In the $35,000 Diane Kem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, the eight-horse field includes three maidens and five others whose only victory came against maiden claimers. One of them is going to come away with a stakes victory and the coveted black type that goes with it. It’s a terrific opportunity for an underdog, and Shesatopballerina is just such a horse. A $600 yearling purchase, she won her racing debut by nearly five lengths, earning more than 10 times the purchase price, and can hit a bigger jackpot Sunday.

Shesatopballerina defeated just three horses in her debut, but those three were in good hands; trainers Tim McCanna, Chris Stenslie, and Tom Wenzel have combined for 91 victories at the meeting. Rosie Simkins, who trains Shesatopballerina, has just four wins this year and 43 career victories at Emerald Downs, but Simkins has a promising runner on her hands – not on the level of Enumclaw Girl, Simkins’ only Emerald stakes winner, but maybe good enough to remain unbeaten with a victory Sunday.

Simkins has been hot in recent weeks. Since Shesatopballerina’s maiden victory July 16, her runners have finished in the top three in 9 of 11 starts. Shesatopballerina has been working steadily in advance of the Diane Kem, following a couple of fast five-furlong moves with a steady six-furlong workout and then a fast four furlongs last Saturday. She’ll break from post 7 with jockey Gallyn Mitchell.

While Shesatopballerina will attract interest in the wagering, Semele, trained by Junior Coffey, figures to start as the favorite. Semele is a maiden after two starts, but her most recent effort, a third-place finish behind the promising Ronda Rocks, yielded a Beyer Speed Figure of 51, suggesting she’s a couple of lengths faster than any of her rivals in Sunday’s race. Coffey also will saddle Gee Mimi, who made an eye-catching late run to capture a $12,500 maiden claimer in her last start.

Others in the field include Eileen Is a Saint and Just Have’n Fun, who ran 1-2 in a $25,000 maiden claimer on Aug. 20, likely pacesetter Wild Chica, Kit Cat Kitty, and Bella Angelina.