09/24/2009 11:00PM

Emerald's women show 'em how it's done


AUBURN, Wash. - If there was a theme to the 2009 season at Emerald Downs, which wraps Sunday with an 11-race program, it was the brilliant performance by female trainers. Though outnumbered about 5 to 1 by their male counterparts, women saddled 22 of the first 34 stakes winners at the meeting, with only Saturday's $75,000 Gottstein Futurity still to be decided.

Perhaps fitting in a year when former Longacres training champion Kathy Walsh was inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, women elbowed their way to the top in the most important races.

Doris Harwood, Valorie Lund, Bonnie Jenne, Chris Stenslie and Connie Bouslaugh conditioned some of the most talented horses in Emerald's 14 seasons. They were responsible for the leading 2-year-old filly (Harwood's Knight Raider), the leading 2-year-old male (Stenslie's Hollywood Harbor), the top 3-year-old filly (Jenne's Ladyledue), the top 3-year-old male (Harwood's Winning Machine), the fastest sprinter (Lund's Atta Boy Roy), and the co-leaders in the filly-and-mare division (Harwood's Elusive Horizon, and Bouslaugh's Clair Annette).

Harwood, who was to saddle Gottstein Futurity favorite Koala Beach on Saturday, smashed the track's single-season earnings record and, entering the final three racing days, was nipping at Tim McCanna's heels for the training title. But Harwood figures the female surge was a confluence of fortunate circumstances, and not necessarily a trend.

"Truly, it's about the quality of the horses you get from your owners," she said. "If you get some good ones, you take care of them and know what you're doing - and all these women have experience - then you can do well. Chris Stenslie has been around horses all her life, and I'm so proud of her for the job she's done with Hollywood Harbor. Connie Bouslaugh did a wonderful job with Clair Annette, getting her to win going long. Women may be a little more in tune to the horse as a live being, a little more attentive, but I see just as many men hugging and kissing these things. I think maybe it was just our turn, because of the quality of horses we had."

Harwood will be in Vancouver on Sunday, saddling Winning Machine and Noosa Beach in the Grade 3, $275,000 British Columbia Derby. Lund already has departed for Turf Paradise. Bouslaugh has one horse running Sunday, a bottom-level maiden, and Stenslie has two. Their work for the summer is done, and by all accounts, it was a job well done.