09/23/2010 12:06PM

Quarter Horses make debut at Emerald Downs

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AUBURN, Wash. – The grand experiment – Quarter Horse racing at Emerald Downs – will get its first lab test Saturday in the 350-yard Muckleshoot Tribal Dash/John Deere Bonus Challenge, the 11th and final race on the meeting’s penultimate day. First post is 2 p.m. Pacific.

A test run for a planned rollout of Quarter Horse racing in 2011, the Dash attracted a full field of 10, with Northwest kingpin Snip N Dale the probable favorite. The Oregon-bred son of Okey Dokey Dale has won 18 of 25 starts and earned $156,807 for owner/breeder Gary Chumbley. Snip N Dale was a close fourth in the Grade 1 Racing Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos last October and is 4 for 5 this year, his only loss coming when he veered in to hit the rail at Portland Meadows.

Joe Crispin, the region’s preeminent Quarter Horse rider, has the call on Snip N Dale for trainer Scott Raley. Emerald Downs-based riders Leonel Camacho-Flores, Troy Stillwell, Tony Gutierrez, Javier Matias, and Connie Doll also have mounts in the first Quarter Horse race in Emerald’s 15-year history.

Another curiosity Saturday is The Blue Mountain Championship, a 5 1/2-furlong starter allowance for horses who have started on the Washington and Oregon fair circuit in 2010. It carries a $5,100 purse and attracted a full gate of 12 runners. Five Star Promise, who won at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19 before trying his hand in a 660-yard mixed-breed contest at Walla Walla, could start favored, though the possibilities are many. The Blue Mountain Championship is the sixth race on the card.

In the featured eighth race, a $21,500 allowance for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, Sweet Nellie Brown could prove to be an elusive target in her first career route attempt. While she became an instant sensation last June when she won her debut by 17 1/4 lengths, it took Sweet Nellie Brown nearly 15 months to notch victory No. 2, against older horses in a six-furlong optional claimer Sept. 5.

Breaking from the rail under Juan Gutierrez, she should have the early lead to herself, with Rewritten, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Washington’s Lottery Handicap in July, and Private Fortune, second in the nine-furlong Washington Oaks last month, tracking her every move.

Others in the field are Soul Custody; Lilly’s a Jewel, a fast-closing third in the one-mile John & Kitty Fletcher Stakes 13 days ago; and Have’n a Wild Time, a stakes winner last summer at 2.