07/20/2004 12:00AM

Seattles Best Joe validates investment


AUBURN, Wash. - It isn't often that owners get the credit for a stakes win, but trainer Howard Belvoir said his partners Dan Corby and Harley Hoppe were responsible for Seattles Best Joe's victory in last Saturday's $48,000 Emerald Express Stakes, the first stakes of the season at Emerald Downs for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

"They were the ones who wanted to supplement him to the stakes," said Belvoir. "I wanted to run him back in a $40,000 maiden race. I didn't think he could beat our other horse."

Belvoir's "other horse" was Pelly Pinecone, an impressive maiden winner who races for Mike Alhadeff's Once Stable was not coupled with Seattles Best Joe in the wagering for the Emerald Express. Pelly Pinecone broke a step slowly and tired after chasing the pace to finish last in the field of seven.

Seattles Best Joe broke a step slowly as well, but he moved up to stalk the pace from the inside through a half-mile in 45.80 seconds, split horses at the top of the stretch, and outdueled Sky Harbor late to prevail by nearly two lengths in 1:10 for six furlongs. It was the first stakes win at Emerald for jockey Kevin Krigger.

Positive Prize, who was favored at 8-5 after defeating Seattles Best Joe when both made their career debut on June 26, held third.

"I was surprised they made Positive Prize the favorite, because our horse broke slowly and raced very wide when he ran second to that one," said Belvoir. "I really wasn't afraid of him, but I thought Pelly Pinecone would run a lot better."

Belvoir was prepared to run only Pelly Pinecone in the Emerald Express, but when only five horses were entered in the race as the entries were about to close last Thursday morning, he let himself be persuaded to give Seattles Best Joe a shot.

"Dan kept calling me and saying 'Let's go!,' " Belvoir said. "He said he and Harley would put up the money, which was about $4,500, so finally I said okay."

The $4,500 that Corby and Hoppe paid for supplemental, entry, and starting fees for the Emerald Express was exactly what Belvoir paid to buy Seattles Best Joe for the partnership at last October's Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association mixed sale. He was surprised he had to go that high for Seattles Best Joe, a son of Personable Joe and First Class Action, by Chisos.

"The horse had no pedigree," he said. "It listed five dams on the pedigree page, and there was no production to speak of. I just liked his looks."

Belvoir said he has grown to like Seattles Best Joe more and more with the passage of time.

"He's a big, long-striding horse, and he has a good mind," Belvoir said. "You saw the way he sat behind horses and ate all that dirt. Not many 2-year-olds will do that in their second start. He's just a racehorse, and I think he'll get better the longer they go."

Seattles Best Joe, who was not nominated for the Northwest Race Series, will have to be supplemented to the remaining 2-year-old stakes in the series, but the decision to supplement him won't be as difficult as it was for the Emerald Express.

"He showed he belongs," said Belvoir. "Plus, he already earned the money."

Swingn' Notes still unbeaten in routes

Swingn' Notes solidified her perch atop the 3-year-old filly division with a professional 1 3/4-length victory over the promising Karis Makaw in last Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Kent Handicap.

Under Adalberto Lopez, Swingn' Notes shared the lead with Overact through a half-mile in a moderate 47.40 seconds, opened a daylight lead around the second turn, and held steady to prevail in 1:43.20. Overact held third, a neck behind Karis Makaw and a nose in front of the fast-finishing Sariano.

"We weren't sure what would happen with the pace, so I told Lopez not to worry if he found himself on the lead," said trainer Bud Klokstad. "That was the way it played out, and I was pretty happy about it when I looked up and saw those fractions. I could see she was doing it easy, so I thought it would be pretty hard for anybody to get by her."

The victory kept Swingn' Notes undefeated in four tries around two turns, a string that includes a victory in last month's Irish Day Handicap at a mile. Swingn' Notes, a daughter of French Deputy who was purchased for $45,000 from the WTBA summer sale in 2002, has now earned $123,944 for owners Johnny and Ruth Lewis.

"Routing is just her thing," said Klokstad. "She is a real sensible filly and she will do pretty much anything you ask of her. I'm pretty happy with her."

Klokstad, who collected his 39th Emerald Downs stakes win to go with the 54 he won at Longacres, nonetheless noted that his filly might have a harder time keeping Karis Makaw at bay when they meet again in the $100,000 Washington Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 21.

Karis Makaw, who was bet down to 2-1 while making her stakes debut in the Kent, was floated extremely wide around the first turn, then launched her bid from the far outside around the second turn. It would be hard to calculate how much farther she ran than Swingn' Notes, but it was obviously much farther than the 1 3/4 lengths she was beaten.

"She ran a really good race," said jockey Gary Baze. "This will set her up great for the next one."