Yulong Warrior, a Southern California-based invader, wins the $100,000 Getaway Day Stakes, and filly Northwest Factor beats the boys in the Gottstein Futurity.
Just when it seemed like the invaders might rule the day at Emerald Downs, there was a big dose of girl power.
Yulong Warrior, based in Southern California and owned by Yuesheng Zhang from China, made a great stretch run to win the $100,000 Getaway Day Stakes for 3-year-olds on the final day of the season at the Auburn racetrack.
Evin Roman, who flew in from Southern California to ride Yulong Warrior, seemed primed to also win the next race, the $90,000 Gottstein Futurity, the signature race of the season for 2-year-olds at Emerald Downs.
Roman was on Palladium, the 3-1 favorite from Southern California, who, like Yulong Warrior, is trained by Doug O’Neill, who has conditioned two Kentucky Derby winners.
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But Northwest Factor, a locally based 2-year-old filly, pulled off a shocker by beating the boys. She rallied along the rail and passed Time ‘n Time Again near the wire to win by a head at 24-1.
Trainer Steve Bullock finally won the race he has often thought about for four decades.
“Every time you have a good baby, you think, there is my Futurity horse,” he said. “I am thrilled to finally win it.”
Palladium had to settle for second, after getting moved up via disqualification. Time ‘n Time Again veered in during the stretch, causing Frolic and Detour to lose rider Eswan Flores. Palladium lost momentum as he avoided running over Flores. Frolic and Detour and Flores apparently avoided injury.
Northwest Factor, one of two fillies in the 11-horse field, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 44.99 seconds.
Roman did win the big-money race. Yulong Warrior had been racing in the United Arab Emirates and his only career start in the United States was last month at Del Mar, when he finished a well-beaten fourth. But he was ready Sunday.
He settled in fifth place early, then responded when Roman prodded him, winning by 1 1/4 lengths.
“He is a really smart horse and he was very relaxed in the gate,” Roman said of Yulong Warrior. “In the stretch, I had him move, and he (went).”
Weekend Wizard took a clear lead in the stretch but could not hold off the winner. Local star Sippin Fire, the 6-5 favorite who was trying for his record-tying fifth straight stakes win of the Emerald season, finished fourth.
Yulong Warrior ran 1 1/16 miles in a rapid 1:40.61 and paid $14.80 to win.
“I had a perfect trip and I was right where I wanted to be,” said Rocco Bowen, who rode Sippin Fire. “It just wasn’t our day. That’s horse racing. It sucks that we got beat, but the horse gave me his all.”
It was not the finish Bullock, who trains Sippin Fire for the How We Roll #4 stable, was hoping for. But they weren’t sullen for long, as both the stable and the trainer were in the winner’s circle less than a half hour later with Northwest Factor.
- No Talking Back ($10.80) won the $25,000 Fan Appreciation Day Stakes for older fillies and mares. She ran one mile in 1:35.98.
- Hit the Beach ($28) won the $25,000 Pete Pedersen stakes for 3-year-olds and up. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.99.