08/29/2011 2:09PM

Emerald Downs's juvenile filly division upended by Sweet Saga's win in Shinpoch


AUBURN, Wash. – Sweet Saga raced to an upset victory in the $45,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes on Sunday at Emerald Downs, moving from the maiden ranks to the head of the 2-year-old filly division in less than 97 seconds. Leaving five rivals in her wake following a powerful rally through the turn and stretch, Sweet Saga ran one mile in 1:36.97 and paid $21.

By first-year stallion Slew’s Saga, a son of Seattle Slew, Sweet Saga had finished third in her first two starts for trainer Larry Ross, both at sprint distances, before racing around two turns for the first time Sunday. Well off the pace in the early going as even-money favorite Exclusive Diva and Talk to My Lawyer vied for command, Sweet Saga began her rally with about three furlongs to run, swept around the field at the top of the stretch, and ran down the leaders in the final yards to prevail by half-length over Talk to My Lawyer.

Exclusive Diva, unbeaten in two starts, was 2 1/4 lengths back in third. The winner of the six-furlong Angie C Stakes in her last start, Exclusive Diva yielded the lead to Talk to My Lawyer in midstretch while failing to ace her first route assignment. Royal Moses, runner-up in both the Knights Choice and Angie C Stakes, lacked her customary closing kick and finished fourth, followed by longshots Gentleman’s Red and Miss Top Nite.

Jockey Gallyn Mitchell, who extended his Emerald Downs record for stakes victories with No. 74, picked up the mount on Sweet Saga when leading rider Leslie Mawing opted for another horse.

“After galloping this horse, I knew she would handle the distance,” Mitchell said. “She broke well, and I just let the speed get away from us early. I got her to settle nicely going into the first turn. … At the three-eighths pole, I gave her a tap on the shoulder and she started to kick it into gear. By the eighth pole, I knew I’d run by the leaders. She switched leads perfectly and then just motored past the field.”

Sweet Saga, a hombred for Gail and Gerald Schneider of Auburn, Wash., earned $24,750.