08/15/2013 5:03PM

Emerald Downs: Stikine Slough comes into WTBOA Lads off romp


AUBURN, Wash. – Stikine Slough, the easiest of winners in his last start, and Noosito, a full brother to an Emerald Downs legend, headline Saturday’s feature race, the $50,000 WTBOA Lads Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 6 1/2 furlongs. First post for the 10-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

After a pair of disappointing losses to begin his career, Stikine Slough ran roughshod over a handful of allowance runners last weekend. Trained by Chris Stenslie, he locked horns with a pace rival into the turn, and when that rival peeled away, found himself in complete command en route to an 18 3/4-length victory – the second-largest winning margin in Emerald Downs history.

That effort came on the heels of a dismal start in the July 28 Emerald Express Stakes, in which Stikine Slough ran into a couple of impenetrable roadblocks on the backstretch and finished last, essentially eased to the finish line by jockey Juan Gutierrez. In his first career start, June 29, Stikine Slough rallied smartly to miss by less than a length going 4 1/2 furlongs.

Stenslie is likely hoping for some kind of middle ground for her gray gelding in Saturday’s race, the second stakes opportunity of the meeting for 2-year-old males. Stikine Slough drew post 3 in a field of nine and again will have Gutierrez, Emerald Downs’ leading rider, in the saddle. He figures to be among those with designs on the early lead, a group of horses that also includes He’s Zuberrific, an eye-catching maiden winner in his last start, Del Rio Harbor, who captured the Emerald Express on the front end, and likely longshot Nicolas Cajun. Noosito is the wild card. He won his debut with a forward running style, putting away an adversary around the turn and easily holding off some would-be closers, but might be just as comfortable sitting a couple of lengths behind what should be a fast pace. Noosito, by Harbor the Gold, is a full brother to the versatile Noosa Beach, who won 11 stakes races at Emerald Downs and had more than one way of going.

Noosito earned a field-best Beyer Speed Figure of 67 for his debut effort and could start as a heavy favorite. He’ll break from post 2 under Isaias Enriquez.

Others in the Lads field are Kenai King and Mebossman, the third- and fourth-place finishers in the Emerald Express; Twentyten, who is making a big class jump after crushing $12,500 maiden claimers in his last start; and Kendini, who was claimed for $25,000 out of his first start and was fifth, beaten less than three lengths, in the Emerald Express in his first start for new connections.