07/31/2016 8:45PM

Opportunistic wins Emerald Downs Derby, hands Barkley first loss


In a thriller, Opportunistic edged the previously undefeated Barkley by a head in the $74,800 Emerald Downs Derby at Emerald Downs on Sunday. Oportunistic paid $13.40.

The difference in trips had a lot to do with the outcome. With David Lopez aboard, Opportunistic saved ground until he moved into contention on the second turn in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds. It looked like he might get trapped behind a wall of horses, but Lopez moved him off the rail and split horses at the top of the stretch.  On the other hand, Barkley got hung out wide on the first turn, and he had to go five-wide when he made his move on the second turn.

They hooked-up at the eighth-pole and, following a spirited duel, Opportunistic got the nod at the wire.

Silvertown, who pressed the early pace set by Huya, finished 5 1/2 lengths back in third. Mach One Rules, who was the second choice, stalked the pace before tiring to finish fourth.

“I had a good trip,” Lopez said. “He’s a real nice horse and when I split horses at the top of the stretch I knew we had a good shot.”

Opportunistic is trained by Michael Puhich, who won the Derby last year with Prime Engine.

“I was sure we had it at the sixteenth-pole, until I remembered it was Barkley he was dueling with,” Puhich said.

Trained by Howard Belvoir, Barkley went into the race undefeated in seven starts. He edged Mach One Rules in the last three stakes for sophomores at Emerald by a combined total of a half-length.

In his previous race, Opportunistic won the $50,000 Chris Loseth for trainer Troy Taylor at Hastings. Taylor said he would likely make his next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Aug. 20. Following that, he will be pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 British Columbia Derby on Sept. 10, where he is eligible for a $25,000 bonus as the winner of the Emerald Derby.

Opportunistic is owned by Mark Dedomenico and Glen Todd.

The final time was 1:47.92.

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