08/22/2014 12:33PM

Stopshoppingdebbie headed to California following Distaff

Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs
Stopshoppingdebbie is a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint this fall.

AUBURN, Wash. – In what could be her final appearance at Emerald Downs for quite some time, the unbeaten 4-year-old filly Stopshoppingdebbie will take on four seemingly overmatched rivals in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff Handicap on Sunday’s Longacres Mile undercard.

Stopshoppingdebbie has won each of her eight starts at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, and for now, trainers of Emerald’s other leading fillies and mares have given up trying to beat her. When she starts Sunday under 124 pounds, she will be opposed by two of her stablemates, Blueberry Smoothie and Goin to the Window, plus She’s Stella Marie, a no-hoper who was outrun by $15,000 claimers in her last start three months ago; and Wando Woman, a shipper from Hastings who would need a pace meltdown to run past a juggernaut with seven consecutive stakes victories.

Should she prevail in the Emerald Distaff, Stopshoppingdebbie likely would make her next start in Southern California in preparation for a possible appearance in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. Win or lose, said trainer Tom Wenzel, owner Jerre Paxton and his star filly are running out of options at Emerald Downs.

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“After her last race, people were asking if we were going to try the Longacres Mile against the boys, and we never really considered it,” Wenzel said. “Jerre is pretty big on running the girls against the girls. We like to keep them there, so the Distaff was really our only choice. We’ll see how it goes, but our plan is to take her to California and try to get her to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Wenzel said the $1 million BC Filly and Mare Sprint, at seven furlongs Nov. 1, and the $2 million BC Distaff, at 1 1/8 miles on Oct. 31, are both on the table. Paxton’s only previous Breeders’ Cup starter, Smarty Deb, finished fifth in the 2007 Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park. Stopshoppingdebbie is Smarty Deb’s half-sister, out of Paxton’s stakes-winning Wild Again mare Taste the Passion. Smarty Deb was by Smart Strike, and Stopshoppingdebbie is by Curlin.

“She’s been able to sprint, middle-distance, and route up here, and her speed figures have been similar,” Wenzel said of Stopshoppingdebbie’s dominance at Emerald Downs. “A seven-furlong race would be in this mare’s wheelhouse. She has shown a lot of versatility. Our original thought would be to try the longer distance, but we will definitely keep our options open to different spots.”

Wenzel said he would join Stopshoppingdebbie in California and train her up to the Breeders’ Cup. Paxton sent one of his horses to trainer Carla Gaines at Del Mar earlier this summer, but Stopshoppingdebbie is Wenzel’s to keep for the time being. If she succeeds Sunday in running her winning streak to nine, it could be an eventful few months for the low-key trainer.

“I don’t get too cranked either way, but this is fun,” Wenzel said this week. “Training this horse has been a lot of fun.”