09/13/2005 11:00PM

Upsets becoming Penney specialty


AUBURN, Wash. - Chestnut Lady came into last Saturday's $89,290 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes for 2-year-old fillies with just one race under her girth, a six-furlong maiden win Aug. 6. Owner Mike Feuerborn said he realized it was asking a lot of his filly to take on more seasoned rivals at a mile, but figured he had an ace in the hole.

"If anybody can do it, it's the Penneys," he said a few moments before the field of 10 left the gate.

"The Penneys" is shorthand at Emerald Downs for trainer Jim Penney, his daughter and assistant, Kay Cooper, and Kay's husband, exercise rider Bryson Cooper. Together, that training team has won 22 stakes at Emerald, including memorable upsets with Edneator and Sabertooth in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile.

The team, with an able assist from rider Miguel Perez, was once again equal to the task Saturday. Though dismissed at 11-1, Chestnut Lady came from ninth to prevail by three-quarter lengths over Carrie With a C, who was part of an entry favored at 1-2. The winning time was 1:38.60 on a wet track.

"We would have preferred to get another race into her before this one, but we thought we could train her into it if we had to," said Penney. "A lot depends on the horse, and this filly is very smart. We breezed her several times, and Bryson got her so she would relax. We always thought that routing would be her forte, too, so we were expecting her to run well."

Mike and Amy Feuerborn, with the help of bloodstock agent Dana Halvorson, purchased Chestnut Lady for $30,000 from last year's September sale at Keeneland. She is by the South African star Horse Chestnut from It's a Girl, by Thunder Gulch.

"Dana and I buy them together," said Mike Feuerborn. "He inspects them physically and gives me a list of the ones he likes, then I go through their pedigrees and we bid on the ones we agree on. He wanted me to buy one by Horse Chestnut a year earlier, but I wasn't familiar with him. Then he had a Grade 1 winner, Lucifer's Stone, from his first crop, and I didn't hesitate when Dana wanted me to bid on this filly."

Beat goes on in Lads

It was more of the same in Sunday's $53,910 WTBA Lads Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The same connections, plus co-owners John and Janene Maryanski, posed with 12-1 shot Schoolin You in the winner's circle after a mile in 1:37.20.

It was the first win from five starts for Schoolin You, a son of You and I who sold for $32,000 at last year's Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association summer yearling sale. It was also his first try beyond 5 1/2 furlongs.

"We felt all along that he needed more ground, but every time we entered him at six or 6 1/2 furlongs the races didn't fill," said Penney. "He was only beaten a half-length in his last race, and I thought he'd show a lot more at a mile."

Schoolin You certainly did that, coming from sixth in a field of seven to prevail by a half-length over second-choice Raise the Bluff. Longshot Coastal King got third, and 3-5 favorite Tusko T. never mounted a bid after racing wide throughout and finished sixth.

Schoolin You's Lads victory completed a remarkable double for all concerned, and it capped an especially strong run of success for the Feuerborns, who also won last month's $100,000 Washington Oaks with the Grant Forster-trained A Classic Life.

"It's not as easy as it looks," said Feuerborn, who has campaigned horses since 1983. "It's so hard to win these big races. These horses are qualified and I've got them in good hands, but that doesn't mean they're going to win."

It surely does help, though.

Easy win for Flamethrowintexan

The weekend wasn't quite finished for the Penneys after Schoolin You's score in the Lads, as they sent out stable star Flamethrowintexan to an easy win over four overmatched rivals in a $25,000 starter allowance race later on Sunday's card.

Flamethrowintexan, a multiple stakes winner who was exiting a sixth-place finish in the Longacres Mile, equaled an Emerald Downs record when he paid only $2.40 to win.

That was one of three records equaled or broken here last week. Market Master, an 11-year-old, won for the 16th time at Emerald on Saturday to break a tie with Fleet Pacific and Bob Stories for most wins over the track.

Sunday, Halonator became the first horse to win seven races at a single meeting and seven races in a row at Emerald. Halonator, a 4-year-old trained by Dan Markle, won at the allowance level after starting her streak in April against $4,000 claimers who had not won two races.

"It was a good thing she won that first race, because she was just about ready to be ruled off for acting up around the gate," said Markle. "It's pretty amazing how far she has come since then."

Mercado has surgery after spill

Victor Mercado, who was injured in a spill here on Labor Day, is listed in satisfactory condition after undergoing surgery at Harbor View Medical Center on Wednesday. Mercado, who is 52, suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and spinal cord injuries. His son, Victor Mercado Jr., said last weekend that his father was suffering from partial paralysis.