07/18/2011 7:39AM

Emerald Downs: Zayda needs no help to win Seattle Slew


AUBURN, Wash. – Zayda, elevated to first via disqualification in his previous start, didn’t need any help from the Emerald Downs stewards on Sunday. Well handled by jockey Leslie Mawing, Zayda rallied from last place in a 12-horse field to win the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths over 2-1 favorite Couldabenthewhisky, who had a troubled trip and finished second.

Trained by Blaine Wright for owner Heidi Nelson, Zayda won for the third time in eight career starts and stamped himself as the leading contender for the $65,000 Emerald Derby at nine furlongs on Aug. 14. He paid $13.20.

After Zayda and Couldabenthewhisky, it was another length back to third-place finisher Northern Indy. Jebrica, Winter Warlock, Come Away Home, Rainier Ice, Codys a Bobcat, Dugan Bill, Showme Yourfriends, Big Bad Brown and early leader El Gran Bebe completed the order of finish.

Zayda earned $27,500 for his victory Sunday, pushing his lifetime earnings to $81,690. He ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.75.

Zayda began his career last October at Golden Gate. He won a maiden race there on New Year’s Day, and then was eighth in the California Derby 14 days later. After a layoff of more than three months, he made his first start at Emerald Downs on May 30, closing from far back to finish fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Stakes. That was followed by his victory in the one-mile Pepsi Cola, in which he crossed the line a neck behind Rainier Ice but was moved up after the Rainier Ice was disqualified for causing a chain-reaction bumping incident in the final yards.

Zayda’s trip was less eventful Sunday, though Mawing said he was concerned about trying to weave his way through a bulky field.

“I had to move a little earlier than I wanted just to make sure I didn't get into any trouble,” he said. “I knew there was a lot of speed in the race. I expected some of the front-runners to stop near the end, and I didn't want to weave around those horses. My horse was just free running on the backside. He was already gaining on the field before I even asked him. At the three-eighths pole I asked him a little bit and he just took off. I had so much horse under me, and he has such a humungous stride. He was a true professional today.”