If all goes as planned, Emerald Downs will be the scene of a rare event in about two months when one of only 11 registered white Thoroughbreds makes his competitive debut.
Arctic White, a 2-year-old colt owned and bred by Dalene Knight of Redmond, Ore., has been turned over to trainer Howard Belvoir at Emerald Downs. Belvoir said he thinks Arctic White could be ready to race by July.
"He's got some talent," Dennis Snowden, exercise rider, told an Emerald Downs official. "He's not just a big blob. I think he can run a bit."
Run or not, he could pose problems for his rivals.
"Most of your Thoroughbred horses see a white horse and they get scared because they don't see that many," Belvoir said.
Arctic White is the son of Airdrie Apache, an unraced, 8-year-old chestnut who stands at Knight's Painted Desert Ranch, and mare Tropicanna Anna.
Irony award to Batson
Bruce Batson, who has returned to his job as executive secretary of the State Horse Racing Commission after resigning in February, has been honored by his peers.
Batson received the Len Foote Award last week during the convention of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI). The award is given annually by the ARCI to an executive director or secretary of a member commission for "meritorious service," said Tony Chamblin, ARCI president.
"It's a deserving honor for him," Chamblin said. "I'm certainly a supporter of his."
Batson, who has been in his present position since 1993, said that he was overwhelmed by the honor.
"It was a very special moment," he said.
Batson said he had no comment on the irony associated with the award and his resignation. He never has publicly revealed his position on the disagreement that led him to resign.
As for his present status?
"We still go through it, step by step," he said.
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"I'm happy just riding four or five races a day. In order to be leading rider you've got to be willing to ride the card. I'm not as young as I used to be. I enjoy playing the game; I just don't play it as hard by riding that number of horses." -- Jockey Gary Baze, 45
Jumron Won, who finished no worse than fourth in nine races as a 2-year-old, is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the $35,000 Auburn Stakes at 6 furlongs.
Owned by Bill Segale and Ray Rosatto and trained by Bud Klokstad, Jumron Won was named Emerald Downs' top juvenile colt last year after he won three stakes races, including the $100,000 Gottstein Futurity. His Emerald record is 3-2-1 in six starts.
After the Emerald season, the Jumron-Inspired Verse colt raced in three stakes races in Northern California, where he ran second twice at Bay Meadows and fourth at Golden Gate Fields.
The group of 11 nominees for the Auburn Stakes also includes Star of Elttaes and Danzilation. Ken Alhadeff's Star of Elttaes began his 3-year-old year by winning an allowance race at Emerald last month. Danzilation, a newcomer in trainer Steve Bullock's stable, scored a third consecutive victory by winning the Oregon Derby by 10 lengths April 14 at Portland Meadows.
On Sunday, 3-year-old fillies will be in the spotlight. And the light will shine brightest on Terry and Mary Lou Griffin's Best Judgement. The homebred daughter of Demons Begone-Bold Magestrate made it four wins in seven lifetime starts when she captured the U.S. Bank Stakes April 22.
Also nominated are the second- and third-place finishers, Shandra Smiles and Anita Maria.