Emerald Downs | Season off to crisp start
Joe Crispin didn't waste any time showing Emerald Downs fans what he is capable of. In the first race, he took Between Eagles to the front right at the start and led all the way to win by 4 lengths.
Special to The Seattle Times
AUBURN — Joe Crispin would have none of it when the suggestion was made he was at Emerald Downs to "show them how it's done."
"I'm just pursuing my dreams," said the 47-year-old jockey, who rode two winners Friday on the opening night of the Auburn track's 12th season.
With his credentials, Crispin could be excused if he were more effusive about his first night at Emerald Downs. He has 158 wins at Portland Meadows this season, surpassing Gary Stevens' 1983 record of 126.
As of Thursday, he was ranked ninth nationally among jockeys in 2007 with 88 wins in 275 mounts. He's keeping company with some of the country's top riders, just behind Garrett Gomez and just ahead of Edgar Prado.
Crispin didn't waste any time showing Emerald Downs fans what he is capable of. In the first race, he took Between Eagles to the front right at the start and led all the way to win by 4 lengths. Ignored by bettors, the 10-1 winner paid $21.40, $11 and $5.40.
In the third race, Crispin set the pace with Tamale Molly, the favorite, and took command of the race with a quarter mile left, winning by almost 5 lengths. Tamale Molly paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.60.
Kevin Radke, Emerald Downs' top rider in 2002 and 2003, also had two wins on opening night. Radke rode to victory with Call On Carson in the fifth race and on Sowhatsyourpoint in the second race when the top horse, Complicit Swiss, was disqualified.
Crispin's dream hasn't always gone this well. He was suspended by the Oregon Racing Commission in 2004 because of alcohol and drug abuse.
"I was drinking and popping pills, but it was the drinking that really got me in trouble," Crispin said. "I took pain pills because I was riding with broken bones and ... I couldn't get time off.
"The commission saw that I was falling apart, that I was a detriment to racing."
In August 2004, Crispin stopped drinking and taking pills. He was allowed back into racing in 2006, riding on the Oregon fair circuit, then at Portland Meadows.
"I work a daily recovery program that I call 'spiritual contacts,' " Crispin said. "And I showed the commission that I could live a sober life."
And as Crispin talked about showing them how that's done, a bit of quiet pride seemed to creep into his voice.
Gutierrez, Great Face tie world record
Jockey Juan Gutierrez treated the opening night crowd to a world record performance in the seventh race when he rode The Great Face over 5 ½ furlongs in 1:01:1.
That ties the record for that distance set by Willie the Cat on opening night in 2004.
The Great Face, by Cahill Road out of Irish Toast, is trained by Tom Wenzel and owned by Ron Crockett Inc.
Crockett, president of Emerald Downs, took advantage of his turn in the winner's circle to thank the crowd of more than 10,000, which he estimated as the biggest for the first day of a meet since the track's opening day in 1996.
The Great Face had not raced since May 29, 2006, and spent most of last season sidelined by injuries.
The Washington-bred gelding was part of an entry with Don'twritemeoff, another Crocket horse, which came in fourth.
The Great Face paid $12.60, $6.40 and $3.60. Courting Seattle, which ran second, paid $7.60 and $4.40.
The show horse, Coastal King, returned $8.80.
• Ben Russell, who has been in the top five of the jockey standings for the past three years, has decided not to ride this year. Kevin Krigger, the track's top jockey in 2005, is expected back in Auburn next month.
• Fathers and sons will be competing in the training ranks this season as David Forster, father of Grant Forster, has moved a string of horses down here from Hastings Park in Vancouver.
Blaine Wright is training on his own this year, vying against his father, Dick Wright, who has been a fixture in Washington state racing for 40 years.
|Top returning jockeys|
|EMERALD DOWNS 2006 RECORD||EMERALD DOWNS CAREER RECORD|
|Two-time riding champion has led in stakes wins each of the past three years, and his total of 27 is 16 better than the runner-up.|
|Expected back late next month; his win total dropped from 126 to 78 last season, but he still finished second.|
|Made 306 trips to the winner's circle the past four years to top all riders. His 50 longshot ( 10-1) winners are the most since 2000.|
|Returned from hand injury (missed two seasons) to win 70 races last year; only jock to win 110 or more races twice (143 twice).|
|All-time leader in wins (918), mounts (5,506), stakes wins (49), 2-year-old wins (122). Finished in top five in all 11 seasons.|
|Has led the women's colony in wins each of the past three seasons. Has won at least one stakes in each of her 3 years riding here.|
|Track's all-time leading woman rider (267 wins). Has won 7 stakes races, including 6 aboard Howard Belvoir-trained 2-year-olds.|
|Doubled his win total to 37 last year and one-third of his 55 Emerald winners have paid at least 10-1.|
|Won first race last year on June 10 after not riding here in 2004 or 2005. Best season was fourth in the 2001 standings with 62 wins.|
|His 35 wins in 2006 came in the final 49 days of the meet. Only jockey to win 8 races in a three-day summer-meet week (2005).|
|Ranks seventh all-time in stakes victories with 15, and his 56 wins aboard 2-year-olds is third best in track history.|
|Regressed from 57 wins in 2005 but didn't ride much in the first four weeks because of an injury.|
|-- Gary Dougherty, Seattle Times handicapper|