07/17/2012 3:07PM

Emerald Downs: Private Fortune finds suitable spot to collect third win

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AUBURN, Wash. – Wins have been hard to come by for Private Fortune, but the stakes-placed mare may have landed in a winning situation Thursday in the feature race at Emerald Downs. The first Thursday card of the meeting, seven races with an average field size of 6.57 horses, begins at 6 p.m. Pacific.

Handled by trainer Jim Penney for the entirety of her 26-race career, Private Fortune has earned $82,733 while winning just twice – a maiden race in 2010, and a $25,000 claimer for nonwinners-of-two last summer. But she has been stakes-placed on four occasions, most notably when she missed by a neck in the restricted Diane Kem Stakes during her 2-year-old season in 2009, and then when she finished second at 45-1 behind Zenovit in the Washington Oaks at 3.

From those heights, Private Fortune has retreated into the claiming ranks in 2012. After finishing a non-threatening fifth behind a winning stablemate in her season debut last month, she finished fourth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in a $25,000 claiming sprint July 8. The combination of more class relief – she will race for $15,000 Thursday – and more ground should make her a serious contender in her third start of the year. In her most recent try at one mile on dirt, last July at Emerald Downs, Private Fortune rallied smartly to finish second. Three weeks later, she recorded her second career victory.

She will face five rivals, and it’s an eclectic bunch. The speedy but lightly raced A Belle and a Cat has 2 victories in 3 career starts and has never raced around two turns. Likewise, Montelena, a front-runner with 3 wins in 6 starts, will be trying a route for the first time. The pace should be fast, which could play into Private Fortune’s hands. She will break from the inside post position under William Antongeorgi III.

Greenback Forest, who finished in front of Private Fortune on July 8, could start as the wagering favorite. As with Private Fortune, the winner’s circle has been elusive for Greenback Forest, who won her only start at 2, and then went nearly three years before winning again. She took a $25,000 claimer for nonwinners-of-two on April 28, beating just three rivals in a slow race, but has returned in fine form following a subsequent two-month layoff. Debbie Hoonan will ride for trainer Dan Markle.

Markle also will saddle Tweetie Pie, claimed out of her last start for $10,000. Completing the field is Satin Bouquet, who has been running on the grass at Golden Gate and will make her Emerald Downs debut for trainer Tim McCanna.