04/13/2012 2:58PM

Emerald Downs: Royal Moses shouldn't be maiden for much longer


AUBURN, Wash. – Some of the story lines at Emerald Downs on the first Sunday of the meeting:

◗ Royal Moses will make her 2012 debut in the fifth race, a maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies. It’s the best race on a 10-race program that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific.

The late-running Royal Moses was stake placed in her first two career starts for trainer Tim Harder, missing by the narrowest of margins in the restricted Knights Choice Stakes in her debut last July, and then falling a length short of Exclusive Diva in the Angie C Stakes in August. She finished the campaign with a non-threatening fourth in the one-mile Barbara Shinpoch Stakes.

Three starts, more than $18,000 in earnings, and she’s still a maiden. Royal Moses worked five furlongs in 57.80 seconds last Sunday, the fastest of 73 recorded works at the distance that day. She figures to be a short-priced favorite under jockey Joe Crispin.

◗ The fifth also features the racing debut of Once Upon a Song. Trained by Tim McCanna for Emerald Downs president Ron Crockett, the filly is by Songandaprayer from the Staff Writer dam Pleas Write. Pleas Write was a four-time stakes winner in Washington and has produced a string of stakes-quality runners. Emerald Downs newcomer William Antongeorgi III has the call on Once Upon a Song, who will break from post No. 3 going 5 1/2 furlongs. Royal Moses will start to her immediate outside in a field of eight.

◗ Twenty-four of the 67 horses entered for Sunday’s card – 36 percent -- are shippers from Portland Meadows. The working relationship between Emerald and its neighbor 150 miles to the south could change dramatically when Portland launches a new summer/fall meeting in July. Will those shippers stick around for the richer purses at Emerald Downs, or hightail it back to Oregon?

Ultimately, will there be enough horses to fill cards at both tracks during the 10 weeks in which they are scheduled to go head-to-head? Emerald officials insist they’re not terribly worried, but the situation will be front and center all summer. Emerald’s calendar expands to four-days a week in mid-July and Portland plans to run three days per week – Wednesday, Friday, Sunday -- beginning July 15.

◗ The three-day opening weekend attracted 181 horses in 26 races, an average of 6.96 starters per race. A year ago, a total of 196 horses competed in 27 races, an average of 7.26 per race.