07/03/2007 11:00PM

Wild Cycle's win provides boost to Villyards


AUBURN, Wash. - June was a bad month for trainer Aubrey Villyard and his wife, Sue. Aubrey was hospitalized with leukemia June 8, while Sue was left alone to run the couple's medium-sized stable.

Aubrey Villyard weathered his chemotherapy treatments as well as could be expected, according to Sue, but a bout with pneumonia delayed his scheduled release from the hospital last weekend. The trainer was clearly in need of something to lift his spirits, and that's what he got when Sue saddled Wild Cycle to win the one-mile Tacoma Handicap for 3-year-olds here Sunday, the first day of July.

"He was getting discouraged, but I'm sure he is smiling now," said Sue, who reported that her husband listened to announcer Robert Geller's call of the race via telephone.

Wild Cycle, a son of Free at Last who races for owner Frank Gaunt, won last year's one-mile WTBA Lads Stakes and finished second to stablemate Pirates Deputy in the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles. His 3-year-old debut was delayed by a freak accident several weeks before this meeting began, when he severed an artery in a hind leg while rolling in his stall. He finished a closing third in the Juneo3 Pepsi-Cola Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs, but Sue Villyard wondered if that single race was enough to prepare him for the Tacoma.

"I was concerned about whether he was tight enough, but this horse is just awesome," she said. "Once he gets in a race, his competitiveness takes over."

Under a clever ride by Juan Gutierrez, Wild Cycle stalked the pace of Immigration through six furlongs in a moderate 1:11, forged to the front turning for home, and prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over a gallant Call on Carson, who was compromised by a slow start, in 1:35.20.

"This one's for Aubrey," Gutierrez said upon his return to the winner's circle.

All concerned hope that Aubrey Villyard can be on hand for Wild Cycle's next start, which will come in the $65,000 Seattle Slew Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 5.

"I think I'll feel pretty good about his chances in that race," Sue Villyard said. "We've been playing catch-up with him all season. Now it looks like he has caught up."

Coastal King shortens in victory

Coastal King turned in a notable performance in Saturday's feature, a six-furlong $50,000 optional claimer for older horses. Coastal King, a 4-year-old son of Charismatic from the barn of trainer Frank Lucarelli, overhauled the always formidable Salt Grinder in the deep stretch to prevail by a length in 1:08.60.

"I think it was a combination of dropping him out of the stakes ranks and returning him to sprinting," Lucarelli said. "He placed in the Lads and the Gottstein as a 2-year-old, and with him being by Charismatic, I thought I had a route horse on my hands. Since then, he has flattened out late every time I have run him around two turns. I finally realized that he wants to be a closing sprinter."

Lucarelli said he will nominate Coastal King for the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap on July 29, but that he would prefer to run him on the allowance level if there are races available.

"He is probably a shade below the best sprinters on the grounds, but he is still an awfully nice horse," Lucarelli said. "I'm happy to have him."

Bone chip sidelines Westsideclyde

Local hopes for the Grade 3, $400,000 Longacres Mile dimmed considerably this week when it was learned that Westsideclyde emerged from his victory in the recent Budweiser Emerald Handicap with a bone chip in his right front knee and is out for the season.

"He will have the chip removed this week," reported Martin Pimentel, assistant to trainer Craig Roberts. "He's not lame and we could have gone on with him, but it wouldn't have been a good idea. Craig wants to do the right thing by the horse, and hopefully he'll be as good as ever next year."

Westsideclyde, who is 5, missed all of his 3-year-old season with a tendon injury, but he has since won 7 of 10 starts for $115,289 in earnings.

The current Emerald Downs meet seemed remarkable for the number of returning stars from last year, but Westsideclyde is the latest of those stars to be sidelined since the meeting began April 20. Also on the injured list are Queenledo, Starbird Road, Kissntheboysgoodby, and See Ya Later Slew.

Get You targets Emerald Downs Derby

Trainer Jim Penney's son-in-law, Bryson Cooper, reported that the family's Homestretch Farm has sold a half-interest in the sensational debut winner Get You to clients Ron and Rosalee Warren for an undisclosed sum. Cooper said Get You will continue to race at Emerald Downs.

"He worked three furlongs yesterday in 35.40, and that was after he had gone at a two-minute lick for five furlongs," Cooper said. "He is doing fantastic."

Get You, a 3-year-old son of Katowice, defeated maiden special weight company by 4 1/4 lengths with 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.20 on June 16, the fastest clocking for the distance ever recorded by a maiden at Emerald Downs. Cooper said he is being pointed toward the $100,000 Emerald Downs Derby on Sept. 3, but he was uncertain of Get You's next engagement.

Cooper also reported that last year's Longacres Mile winner, Flamethrowintexan, has returned to training after a bout with the virus that has affected so many horses on the local backstretch. Flamethrowintexan worked three furlongs in 34.40 on Sunday with regular rider Ricky Frazier in the irons.

* Another Longacres Mile hopeful, True Metropolitan, won Sunday's $200,000 Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine by a half-length in 2:04.20 for 1 1/4 miles. True Metropolitan, a 5-year-old trained by Terry Jordan, won a Sovereign Award as Canada's best older horse last year.