05/04/2009 12:00AM

Kruger Park shows he loves Emerald


AUBURN, Wash. - Emerald Downs newcomer Kruger Park raced to an impressive victory Sunday in the $30,000 Seattle Handicap, the meeting's first stakes event for older horses. Claimed out of his last start at Santa Anita for $50,000, Kruger Park zipped six furlongs in 1:08.60 and paid $12.40. Assessment was three-quarters of a length behind in second, and 45-1 longshot Reel Prime rallied to finish third.

Kruger Park, a 5-year-old gelding, had raced exclusively in Southern California before being claimed March 22 by Emerald Downs-based trainer Carlos Moreno and his wife, Maria. The son of Johannesburg distinguished himself as a grass sprinter, winning or finishing within a length of the winner seven times in nine starts down Santa Anita's hillside turf course. The Seattle Handicap was his first appearance on a dirt surface in 15 career races. Javier Matias rode the winner.

Moreno said Kruger Park would be pointed to the 6 1/2-furlong, $50,000 FSN Handicap on May 25, with the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 16 his eventual goal.