09/24/2010 12:42PM

Gottstein Futurity could decide local division title

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AUBURN, Wash. – The $75,000 Gottstein Futurity is the centerpiece of an 11-race card Sunday as Emerald Downs pulls down the curtain on its 15th season. Getaway Day begins at 2 p.m. Pacific, and the Gottstein is the 10th race on a program that also includes the Ashbaugh Beal Claiming Challenge, a six-race showcase for horses who have started for various claiming prices in 2010.

The 1 1/16-mile Gottstein likely will determine the division championship for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Couldabenthewhisky already has two stakes victories at the meeting and would be a virtual shoo-in for those honors should he win Sunday. Winter Warlock, with one stakes victory and three runner-up finishes in added-money events, is the other leading contender.

As good as those two are, however, the Gottstein favorite could be Jebrica, coming off a powerful victory in a maiden race a month ago, or the supremely talented Seattle Sniper, who was second behind Winter Warlock in the six-furlong Premio Esmeralda Stakes on Aug. 8 and then third behind Couldabenthewhisky in the one-mile WTBOA Lads Stakes on Aug. 29.

Couldabenthewhisky, Winter Warlock, and Seattle Sniper are the only horses in the eight-horse field with experience around two turns, but Jebrica, who’s by Liberty Gold from the Halo mare Peaceful Wings, is bred to relish the Gottstein distance. As is common in juvenile stakes, there’s lots of speed in the lineup, with Winter Warlock and recent maiden winner Fueled by Kaffine the two most likely to assume command around the first turn.

Couldabenthewhisky has won 3 of 5 starts for trainer Bonnie Jenne, who owns him in partnership with Seattle-area residents Andy Maib, Craig Fredrickson, and Stan Fredrickson. By Harbor the Gold, Couldabenthewhisky is one of four Washington-bred horses in the race; the other four were bred in Kentucky. Gallyn Mitchell has the riding assignment.

Winter Warlock has two wins and three seconds in five starts. He’s one of two Tim McCanna-trained runners in the race, joined by recent maiden winner Carr Creek. In his last start two weeks ago, Winter Warlock finished second, a length behind Mack’s Gold Bullet, after pressing the pace in the restricted Dennis Dodge Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. He’ll be ridden by Kevin Krigger.

Others in the field are Tweetie Pie, the only filly in the race and a likely longshot after winning a $30,000 maiden claimer in her last start; and Giuseppe G, who was a distant fifth in the Dennis Dodge as a 36-1 outsider.