09/26/2013 4:45PM

Emerald Downs: Winning Machine, Jebrica knock heads in Saturday allowance


AUBURN, Wash. – On the penultimate day of the meeting at Emerald Downs, a pair of the Northwest’s most venerable stakes performers, Jebrica and Winning Machine, will renew their rivalry Saturday in a $22,575 no-conditions allowance race at one mile. First post for the 11-race card is 2 p.m. Pacific.

Between them, Jebrica and Winning Machine have eight stakes victories and $773,134 in earnings. They have followed similar career paths, though Winning Machine, 7, has been at it for a little longer than the 5-year-old Jebrica. Both horses are in expert hands – Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney handles Jebrica, and two-time defending Emerald Downs training champion Frank Lucarelli conditions Winning Machine. And both have been formidable at Saturday’s distance.

Yet for all their achievements, Jebrica and Winning Machine have had mildly disappointing 2013 seasons. Jebrica did take the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in June for his lone victory of the year and delivered a strong effort in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile last month, rallying from far back to finish fourth. But in his most recent outing, Jebrica loomed into contention around the turn before fading to finish third in the restricted Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Sept. 15.

Winning Machine is 0 for 6 this year, with a pair of narrow defeats in allowance races sandwiched around a third-place finish behind Jebrica in the Budweiser. In the Longacres Mile, Winning Machine pressed a demanding pace set by winner Herbie D before fading to finish 10th. It has now been more than 15 months since his last victory, which came in the Budweiser Handicap in June 2012.

Winning Machine still has something left in the tank, though. He set a breakneck pace in his last start, running six furlongs in 1:09.34 before yielding to Until You in the final strides to lose by a nose in 1:35.04 for the mile. A repeat of that effort would make Winning Machine formidable against Jebrica, Until You, and three others in Saturday’s race.

Isaias Enriquez, Jebrica’s regular rider, has opted to handle Winning Machine instead as Enriquez zeroes in on the riding title in his first year at Emerald Downs. Leonel Camacho-Flores steps in for Enriquez on Jebrica.

While Jebrica and Winning Machine are likely to dominate the wagering, Until You could be an attractive option following his $21.20 upset of Winning Machine on Sept. 1. Until You, a 4-year-old by Jazil, has been a vastly improved horse in his three starts this year, and another victory Saturday could set him up for a steady diet of stakes races in 2014. David Martinez trains Until You, and Javier Matias will ride.