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Vodka With Ice Takes Emerald Challenge

Veteran gelding snaps 10-race winning streak of Chicks Special Angel.

September 1, 2013

After coming close in the last two renewals of the Bank of America Emerald Downs Championship Challenge, Gerardo Prado’s Vodka With Ice broke through with a victory in Sunday’s edition of the race to earn the winner’s share of the $70,200 purse and a berth in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) to be held November 9 at Los Alamitos Race Course. The victory also snapped the 10-race winning streak of favorite Chicks Special Angel, who finished fourth.

Ridden by Cesar DeAlba for trainer Pablo Rabasa Jr., the 8-year-old Stoli gelding broke well from post 10 and went on to score by three-quarters of a length as the 5-2 second choice. The Texas-bred stopped the timer at :21.667 to set a new track record at the 440-yard distance at the track near Seattle. The victory was worth $32,292 and improved his bankroll to $175,256 with a record of 46-11-8-4.

Bred by Michael Pohl, Vodka With Ice ran third in the same Emerald Challenge race last year and finished second in the 2011 running. The gelding also hit the board in the Bank of America Delta Downs Championship Challenge (G2) in 2009 and the Bank of America Elko County Championship Challenge (G3) in 2011. This marked his first regional Challenge victory, and he also captured the 2012 Jack Rhoden Memorial Stakes, part of the Bank of America Bonus Challenge, at the Crooked River Roundup.

Snowbound Superchick, a regular competitor at Emerald, finished second with Ruben Camacho up for trainer and owner Adrian Quinones. Silvestre Delapaz Sanguino’s J Mancuso, winner of last year’s Portland Meadows Derby, took third with Luis Gonzalez riding for trainer Juan Sanguino.

Fastest qualifier and odds-on favorite Chicks Special Angel, a 5-year-old daughter of Chickspecialmongoose with a 10-race winning streak dating back to July 2011, bumped at the start and finished fourth. The Oregon-bred, who runs for Miguel Sanguino, had won the majority of her 10 straight races by daylight while racing primarily at Portland Meadows.

Also on the card, Craig Giles Racing LLC’s Whos On First AJ picked up his fourth consecutive win as the heavy favorite in the $21,150 Zoetis Emerald Downs Starter Allowance Challenge. The victory earned him a spot in the $75,000 Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos.

With Joe Crispin aboard for trainer Nick Cronquist, Whos On First AJ prevailed by a half-length in :17.850 for 350 yards. The California-bred gelding by Separatist started his win streak in a $5,000 claiming race at Les Bois Park, and then he picked up two more wins at the Idaho track in an allowance contest and the $13,060 Treasure Valley Racing Bonus Challenge. Bred by Jackie and Rod MacPherson Jr., Whos On First AJ has now won 13 of 33 career starts with earnings of $64,955.

San Gregorio Racing Stable Inc.’s Secret Inferno, who shipped in from Los Alamitos, finished second. Jose Ariel Lozano’s Unique Sneak crossed the wire third.