06/21/2010 11:00PM

Two Emerald riders change direction


AUBURN, Wash. - Emerald Downs lost three of its prominent players last week. Seth Martinez and Robert Burney, both ranked in the top 10 in the jockey standings, packed up and left for other states, and Peaceful Reign, expected to be one of the favorites in the Budweiser Handicap last Sunday, will run Friday in the Iowa Sprint Championship at Prairie Meadows.

Martinez, 31, said he was leaving to spend time with his children in Minnesota. He accepted his final mounts here Sunday, when he steered Rooster City to a third-place finish in the Budweiser. Overall, he won 17 races in 214 mounts, a far cry from 2008, when he captured the Emerald riding title with 121 victories despite missing the first 18 days of the 91-day meeting. Martinez finished fourth in the standings in 2009, rallying from a slow start to win 75 races.

Burney, 23, said he was leaving to pursue a rodeo career in Idaho; he ranked 10th in the standings with 14 victories when he departed early last week. A relative newcomer to Thoroughbred racing, Burney rode his first winner in 2008 in the Idaho bushes, had 21 victories in his first season at Emerald in 2009, and finished fourth at the 2009-10 winter meeting at Portland Meadows with 51 wins. He appeared to have a bright future at Emerald, recently working his way into some of the track's leading barns.

Peaceful Reign, a 4-year-old trained by Vann Belvoir, was listed at 7-2 in the morning line for the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap, but the trainer and owner H.E. Maggard decided to shoot for a bigger prize -- the Iowa Sprint Championship carries a $125,000 purse and attracted a strong field of nine led by Atta Boy Roy, the 2009 sprinter of the meeting at Emerald Downs.

Peaceful Reign is 8-1 in the morning line, and Atta Boy Roy, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 1, is the 7-2 favorite.

Gallyn Mitchell, who has been aboard Peaceful Reign for all but one of his eight starts, is scheduled to ride. Mitchell also has the call Friday on the Belvoir-trained No Flies on Doodle, who will compete in the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Post time for the Saylorville is 6:44 p.m. Pacific, with the Iowa Sprint Championship scheduled for 7:37. Both races will be available for simulcast wagering at Emerald Downs.