Curlin baby Stopshoppingdebbie (Taste the Passion, by Wild Again) improved to a career eight-for-eight in the Boeing Handicap at Emerald Downs tonight.
The four-year-old filly last raced in the Washington State Legislators Handicap on June 8, at six and a half furlongs over the Emerald Downs dirt. She prevailed by half a lengths against a field of six, rebuffing a late charge by stablemate Goin to the Window. This time out she stretched to a mile in that dirt. It was her longest race of the year, but she had shown her ability to go longer last year. She won the 2013 Irish Day Handicap at Emerald at that distance, and also has stakes wins at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles.
The load into the gate took longer than the race did. Goin to the Window, her closest rival last time, wanted no part in loading, and eventually had to be front loaded. Then, Stopshoppingdebbie gave her fans and backers a scare by acting up while loading; jockey Rocco Bowen even had to bail and re-mount. Even stablemate Blueberry Smoothie was hesitant to get into the gate; the only horse who behaved during the load was Madame Pele.
Breaking from the rail, Stopshoppingdebbie was the slowest out of the gate. She quickly made that distance up along the rail, and engaged Blueberry Smoothie on the front end as the field entered the clubhouse turn. As the field entered the backstretch, Stopshoppingdebbie had the lead by a length, and led the field on some honest fractions for a mile: the quarter in 23.80, the half in 47.25. Through the far turn both Goin to the Window and Madame Pele made their moves from behind, and the former got within about a neck of the leader. Rocco Bowen asked Stopshoppingdebbie for some more run, and she showed that she had plenty left to give. She was ahead by a length again by the three-sixteenths pole, and that only widened. Again Goin to the Window was the closest of the rest, but it wasn’t the nail-biter it was last out: she was 2 3/4 lengths back at the wire. Blueberry Smoothie had dropped back to last when the others made their run, but had enough energy down the stretch to close up a bit of distance, and cross the wire third, 3 1/2 back. Just as in the Washington State Legislators Handicap, these three Wenzel trainees finished 1, 2, 3 — in the very same order. Madame Pele could not sustain the run she attempted on the far turn, and finished 5 1/4 lengths back in fourth.
Stopshoppingdebbie now has eight wins in eight starts, all of which have been at Emerald Downs and seven of which have been in stakes. Trainer Tom Wenzel has been mum, but at least one member of her ownership group has suggested a run at the Breeders’ Cup. If that’s the goal, she needs to start running against some tougher company soon: it is a safe assessment that Princess of Sylmar, Close Hatches, and Beholder will be tougher company than Goin to the Window, Blueberry Smoothie, and Madame Pele. It would be madness to send her straight from stakes at Emerald Downs to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff without any intermediate gradations in class.
Whether she ends up going to the Breeders’ Cup or not, though, it would be great to see Wenzel aim her toward some different company, some tougher company. She has already proven herself to be the best filly racing at Emerald Downs. It would be exciting to see how she stacks up against tougher company, but starting in a Grade III somewhere on the west coast would be a great first step. If she fares well there, then they could put even tougher company in her sights. Such a move would put her undefeated record in more jeopardy than running her in the Emerald Distaff on August 24, but fans will never know quite how high she can fly until she is tested. Win or lose, she will still be the queen of Emerald Downs, and a good racehorse.