07/28/2010 2:16PM

Promising maidens look good enough to draw $30,000 claims at Emerald Downs

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AUBURN, Wash. – Claiming activity, surprisingly brisk at Emerald Downs this summer, reached a crescendo of sorts last Sunday when two horses, both promising 2-year-old maidens, were taken from the first race. The purchase price for each was $30,000, a hefty sum at a track with a daily average purse distribution of about $90,000.

Trainer Jim Penney claimed Good Knight Matty for owners Paul and Lori Heist, and Frank Lucarelli secured Mutiny Bay for owner David Taylor. Good Knight Matty finished second, a half-length behind winner Banditontheloose, and Mutiny Bay was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third in a race that attracted just four starters. The new owners could get a quick financial return the next time their new runners compete against maidens, though both parties are aiming higher.

The Heists, who sell fruits and vegetables, meats, wine, and other specialty foods at three popular stores in the Tacoma area, are hoping Good Knight Matty turns into a stakes competitor along the lines of Flamethrowintexan, a horse they claimed for $62,500 at Hollywood Park in 2004. Flamethrowintexan won 10 of 22 starts for the Heists, including the 2004 British Columbia Derby at Hastings and the 2006 Longacres Mile at Emerald, and earned $707,742. The Heists have started just three horses at Emerald since retiring Flamethrowintexan in 2008. They purchased Good Knight Matty on the advice of Penney and Kay Cooper, who runs day-to-day operations in Penney’s barn.

“Paul has been without a horse, and we’ve been chompin’ at the bit to find one for him,” Cooper said. “We had some feelers out to buy a 3-year-old to go through the Derby here and try to replicate what we did years ago with Flamethrowintexan, but there were none on the market to buy.”

Good Knight Matty, by Matty G, is a half-brother to multiple Emerald Downs stakes winner Knight Raider. His former owner, Gary Hughes, purchased him for $18,000 at the 2009 Washington summer yearling sale. Good Knight Matty finished fourth in his racing debut July 11.

“We watched him run his first race,” Cooper said. “He had trouble leaving the gate and closed a ton of ground, and we all went, ‘Hmmmm, let’s keep an eyeball on him next time out.’ We had looked at him at the sale last year and had a lot of good marks on him.

“He’s eligible for the Northwest Race Series, so there are two stakes here to run for. I don’t know where we’re going this fall, but if he fits the program, we’ll take him wherever we go.”

Lucarelli likes what he has seen of Mutiny Bay, who finished third in his career bow June 27 and third again last Sunday after a troubled trip. Mutiny Bay is by 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart from an Ogygian mare. He sold for $50,000 as a weanling and then changed hands privately after failing to meet his reserve at the Keeneland September 2009 yearling sale.

“I like the horse,” Lucarelli said, checking off Mutiny Bay’s attributes. “He had a tough trip the first time he ran, made a good late run, looked like a horse who would go on, good breeding, nice mare. I’ve always liked Lion Heart, and this is a good-looking individual, so we gave it a shot.”

Taylor has a handful of horses with Lucarelli, including Reagan Republican, a 6-year-old who finished fourth in the April 24 Grey Memo Stakes at Hollywood Park.

“He’s trying to get some good horses,” Lucarelli said. “We’ve made a few offers that fell through, and I saw some possibilities in Mutiny Bay. I think he’s worth what we paid for him.”

Include the Baby out till next year

Include the Baby, a promising 3-year-old filly trained by Penney for owners Mike and Amy Feuerborn, will be sidelined for the rest of the year because of an injury sustained in her last start June 20. Include the Bay should be fully recovered for her 4-year-old campaign, Cooper said. She did not reveal the nature of the injury, though it apparently was unrelated to injuries sustained when Include the Baby flipped in the starting gate before the Federal Way Handicap on May 9.

◗ Jersey Town, runner-up in the 2009 British Columbia Derby at Hastings, is scheduled to start next in the Longacres Mile on Aug. 29, trainer Tim McCanna confirmed Tuesday. Jersey Town raced to a three-quarter-length victory in a 6-1/2-furlong allowance race at Emerald Downs last Sunday in his first start following a 10-month layoff. He has won 4 of 8 career starts for owner Chuck Fipke.

◗ Lucarelli said Gallant Son, winner of the 2008 Gottstein Futurity at Emerald and a two-time stakes winner in Southern California, is scheduled to arrive Tuesday to begin local preparations for a planned start in the Longacres Mile.