08/09/2010 8:00AM

Winter Warlock bags a stakes for McCanna

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AUBURN, Wash. - Winter Warlock raced to a three-quarter-length victory Sunday in the Premio Esmeralda, the first unrestricted stakes for 2-year-olds at the Emerald Downs meeting.

The first winner, and now first stakes winner, for first-year stallion Demon Warlock, Winter Warlock took home the $24,750 winner’s share from the $50,000 purse and increased his bankroll to $35,230 for an ownership group headed by Tim Floyd and James Broussard of Spokane, Wash.

Winter Warlock won a $12,500 maiden claimer in his debut June 25, and then finished second behind Couldabenthewhisky in the restricted Strong Ruler Stakes on July 10. Floyd bred Winter Warlock and owns the horse's sire, Demon Warlock, who finished second in the 2004 Longacres Mile.

It was the first stakes victory of the meeting for leading trainer Tim McCanna, who ranks fourth with 28 stakes wins at Emerald Downs but hadn’t won an added-money event since September 2008, when Bound to Be M V P captured the Chinook Pass Stakes.

"I had lost track," McCanna said. "This one feels pretty good."

With Kevin Krigger riding, Winter Warlock ran six furlongs in 1:09.80 and paid $9.20. Breaking from the inside post position, he sprinted to the front, opened a clear lead on the turn, and held off a spirited charge by 6-5 favorite Seattle Sniper in the final furlong.

Gdanz Express finished third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Seattle Sniper, followed by Jebrica, Couldabenthewhisky, and Fueled by Kaffine in the field of six.

"I said to myself that everybody has speed, so they’re going to say, 'Let’s take back.'" Krigger said. "My horse broke on top and I took it from there."

Next on Emerald’s juvenile stakes calendar is the $50,000 WTBOA Lads Stakes at one mile on Aug. 29. Winter Warlock, bred in Washington, also would be eligible for the 6 1/2-furlong Dennis Dodge Stakes on Sept. 12. The season-ending, $75,000 Gottstein Futurity at 1 1/16 miles is Sept. 26.