04/10/2014 2:50PM

Metz goes full blast at Emerald entry box

Coady Photography
Jeff Metz has 27 horses at Emerald Downs, but must search for a replacement for stable star E Z Kitty, who has been retired.

AUBURN, Wash. – After winning the Emerald Downs training title in his first year in the Pacific Northwest, Jeff Metz will try to get a quick jump on a repeat when Emerald kicks off its 75-day meeting Saturday at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Metz stuffed the entry box Wednesday and will send out nine horses to compete on the 10-race card. Metz has 27 horses at Emerald Downs, many in sharp form after starts this spring in Arizona or California, so, as the trainer put it, “I figure we might as well strike while the iron is semi-lukewarm. We’ve got a third of the barn in on opening day.”

Metz saddled 42 winners at Emerald last summer to edge Frank Lucarelli for the training title. His big horse was E Z Kitty, a 5-year-old mare who won three stakes. E Z Kitty has since been retired, leaving Metz to scramble for a “big” horse while doing his usual handiwork with claimers.

Metz, who spends the winter at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, has rapidly expanded his racing operation. In 2013, he won 111 races to rank 33rd nationally, and his horses earned more than $850,000 in purse money, more than double his previous career best.

“The last four years, every year it’s gotten a little bit better,” Metz said. “The last four years have been a steady ride, and Emerald Downs, career-wise, was the best move I made. The timing, in terms of getting E Z Kitty, really got me going with some better horses. This year, I have a couple of Washington-breds, which I didn’t have last year, and about eight 2-year-olds, compared to just one last year.”

Few trainers have more pokers in the fire. Metz, 47, employs assistant trainers at Emerald Downs, Golden Gate Fields, Barretts at Fairplex, and now Prairie Meadows, where one of his clients is heavily involved in the Iowa breeding industry.

“This morning, I entered at Emerald, Los Alamitos, and Turf Paradise, and on Saturday, we’ll run horses at Emerald, Los Al, and Santa Anita,” Metz said Wednesday. “To add to the mix, a week from Saturday is opening day at Prairie Meadows, and I have 12 horses there. It wasn’t my intention to have four strings, but this is how it has worked out with my clients. I will be traveling quite a bit.”

But Metz said most of his summer focus will be on Emerald Downs, with another training title among his goals. A former exercise rider and assistant to Southern California trainers Bruce Headley and Dan Hendricks, Metz has his preferred jockeys lined up to help him. Anne Sanguinetti won 26 races for Metz at Emerald in 2013 before being injured in a late-season spill. Metz will call on her, Rocco Bowen, and newcomer Felipe Valdez as he vaults headlong into the new meeting.


tukwilatommygun More than 1 year ago
Awe yes, Opening Day at Emerald Downs. The weather is fantastic and the track looked really nice the last month or so. Good luck to all the folks and horses involved and everyone have a safe and successful meet.
exoticindy More than 1 year ago
Joe Withe ROCKS!!! Have a Great meet....Wayne and Ellen Nagai!!!
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Scot Morley stated Metz ran kitty into the ground. Here are the stats, 27 starts in three seasons, only started her twice with less than 15 days between races and she won both of them. If a horse is sound, racing nine times a year is certainly not too much. On the last day of a racemeet, I started eight horses, five of them won, my two most favorites ran 2nd and 4th. Four of the five that won, I raced the day before, of which two won that day. Keep in mind it was the last day of the fall meet, at Yakima Meadows, and we wouldn't run again until March. You can't bleed them dry, but horses are made to run, fast and often. You also must know the horse, but months between races, on a sound horse, is a little too much caution. If you work a horse in between, each work can take a toll, not like a race, but they still are pounding the ground.
tukwilatommygun More than 1 year ago
It is an age old question, how much is too much. That horse loved to run, as you said. This is a poor place to trash somebodies name, esp. when it is an opinion based on zero facts.
shawn kennedy More than 1 year ago
I knew Jeff back in the 90's from my days as an amatuer jockey- great to see him doin gso well!
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
Emerald ,one of the weirdest tracks for me. 8 horse field and all 8 are 3-1. Once I saw Joe Witte and his side kick not get any of their top 3 picks on the board in 3 straight races. man, if they can't hit, how can I hit anything. Lucky they're on the west coast what else can you play outside of the Southern California's 2 ring circus? I used to live near Prairie Meadows, hearing the name brings back memories. , If he's a good trainer he should clean up in Iowa.
Gary More than 1 year ago
Mr. Metz has been a wonderful addition to Washington racing. He's been a key ingredient in racing at Emerald Downs, racing here in Washington started in 1933 and we are proud to have Mr. Metz here running his horses. E. Z. Kitty won her debut at the $6,250 level and just loved to compete. She moved up in class and look what she did - win stakes races at EmD and Turf Paradise. She loved too run and guess what, she was named WA-bred of the year for 2013. Good luck Jeff all across the country. We all dream in this great game!
Scot Morley More than 1 year ago
He ran EZ Kitty into the ground racing her way too much then over her had at Santa Anita. I would never have him train my horse!