07/25/2013 4:13PM

Emerald Downs: Robbie Baze sends out sharp speedster


AUBURN, Wash. – Trainer Robbie Baze, enjoying a productive summer at Emerald Downs, will send out Just Gonna Be as a potential upsetter in Saturday’s feature race, a $15,000 claimer for older horses at one mile. First post for the nine-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

Baze began the week with 12 wins from 89 starters, an impressive uptick from 2012, when he needed the entire 81-day meeting to record a dozen victories from 168 starters. His barn has been strengthened by owners Mike and Amy Feuerborn, who have transferred several horses to Baze this summer, and the results have been positive. Baze’s winning percentage and in-the-money percentage are both well ahead of his career marks, and his ROI – the average return for a $2 win wager – has soared to $2.22, up from $1.33 for the balance of his career.

Baze, who celebrated his 49th birthday on Wednesday, has done the lion’s share of his work over the years in the claiming ranks with horses like Just Gonna Be, who recorded his maiden victory in a claimer at Turf Paradise in October and win No. 2 in a $7,500 claimer at Emerald on June 9. A speedy 4-year-old by Swiss Yodeler, Just Gonna Be will be making his first start around two turns when he faces four rivals Saturday in a race restricted to horses who have never won three times.

While Just Gonna Be lacks the breeding to be formidable at longer distances, he is fast enough to grab the early lead with jockey Rocco Bowen and make the others reel him in. Just Gonna Be is a sharp horse, having followed his June 9 victory with a runner-up finish against $7,500 claimers in his most recent outing, and could be formidable if Bowen can get him to take a breather down the backstretch.

The favorite’s role could go to Jade Road, another horse who has yet to travel a route distance. Jade Road began his career with consecutive victories and has continued to thrive while climbing the class ladder. In his most recent start, June 29, he made an eye-catching move on the turn before flattening out to finish third in a fast $15,000 claimer. And unlike Just Gonna Be, Jade Road, who is by Cahill Road from a Skip Away mare, has the pedigree to thrive around two turns. He’ll be ridden by Juan Gutierrez for trainer Chris Stenslie.

Others in the field are Jack the Pirate and Orcas Gold, who ran one-two in a $7,500 claiming sprint in their last start, and Faster Than Duke, who has worked exceedingly well for his first start since June 8.