06/18/2012 11:17AM

Emerald Downs: Winning Machine wins Budweiser Handicap; Noosa Beach scratched at gate


Noosa Beach made it to the starting gate Sunday at Emerald Downs, but no farther. Set to start as the odds-on favorite in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap, the reigning Washington horse of the year injured himself after rearing in the gate and was withdrawn by order of the presiding veterinarian. That opened the door for Winning Machine to capture the one-mile Budweiser, his second consecutive stakes victory.

Winning Machine, who captured the 6 1/2-furlong Governor’s Handicap as an 11-1 outsider May 20, became the 3-2 co-favorite in a field reduced to five starters after Noosa Beach’s exit.

On a surface that was speed-favoring all day, the Budweiser unfolded in predictable fashion. After tracking pacesetter Rainier Ice for more than a half-mile, Winning Machine joined the leader from the outside around the final turn, and those two battled it out to the wire. Winning Machine inched away to win by a half-length. Rainier Ice was 4 1/4 lengths clear of Slim Pickins, who was followed by Jebrica, the other co-favorite, and Aaron the Baron.

With Javier Matias riding for trainer Frank Lucarelli, Winning Machine ran the mile in 1:34.44. He earned $27,500 for Fleur De Lis Stables partners Raymond Kwik of Spokane, Wash., and Paul Goldberg of Westport, Conn., increasing his lifetime earnings to $417,578 in 29 starts. Most of that money was earned during his 3-year-old season in 2009, when Winning Machine captured derbies at Emerald Downs and Hastings.

Noosa Beach suffered minor injuries, according to track reports. Jockey Leslie Mawing, who was unseated through the back of the starting gate when Noosa Beach reared, escaped injury.

Noosa Beach, who was attempting to become the first horse to win stakes races in five consecutive seasons at Emerald Downs, likely will get his next chance in the 1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap on July 22 – the final added-money event for the handicap division before the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 19.