Small barns with big impacts at Emerald Downs | Horse Racing

Most horse racing fans have heard of trainers Tim McCanna and Doris Harwood. Both are among the leading trainers in the state, and the statistics prove it. But how about trainers like Larry Wolf and Dino Apostolou?

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2011 11:22pm
  • Sports

Most horse racing fans have heard of trainers Tim McCanna and Doris Harwood. Both are among the leading trainers in the state, and the statistics prove it.

But how about trainers like Larry Wolf and Dino Apostolou?

The two might fly beneath the radar of regular fans, but Wolf and Apostolou both operated low volume, high-percentage stables at Emerald Downs in 2010. In fact, Wolf and Apostolou finished second and third behind Mike Chambers for highest win percentage with a minimum 30 starts.

Tom Bombadil scored four times for Apostolou to give the 62-year-old native of Greece eight wins in 32 starts, a 25 percent clip. The only thing better than Apostolou’s win percentage might be the Hylopetes (Greek Pasta) that he serves daily at Santorini’s Pizza & Pasta, the North Seattle eatery Apostolou’s owned for 17 years.

Wolf, meanwhile, doesn’t own any restaurants, but he did saddle Highdleburg to three victories last season, including two feature-race wins, and he finished the season with 24 percent winners with 14 victories in 59 starts. Both Tom Bombadil and Highdleburg were candidates for Claimer of the Meet.

“I really couldn’t believe how well my horses did last year,” said Apostolou, who quadrupled his previous highest season-win total at Emerald Downs. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I am much better prepared this year.”

Apostolou has five horses, and all of them will be ready for action when the meet opens Friday, April 15. The effusive conditioner exuded confidence in their abilities.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if four of them won in their season debut,” he said. “I have to think that I can win. That’s what we are here to do.”

In the bar right next door Wolf has prepared for another fast start, similar to his preparation that led to three wins in his first nine starts in 2010. The barn leader, He’s All Heart, owned by Vic-Tory Stables IV, will attempt another successful run in the allowance division for older horses.

“I’m not going to have as many condition-type horses as I did last year,” Wolf said. “The older horses, like He’s All Heart, are going to have step it up this season.”

Wolf’s barn currently stables 12 horses, which he said was about the same number as last year.


If advance wagering were available on the $200,000 Longacres Mile, Noosa Beach would be heavily favored to capture the 76th running of the Grade III classic on Aug. 21.

The Mile is still over four months away, however, and hope springs eternal this time of the year. After all, who could have predicted that either Wasserman in 2008 or Assessment in 2009 would pretty much run the table while winning The Mile and Horse of the Meeting honors?

And there are some candidates at Emerald Downs in 2011.

Perhaps either He’s All Heart or Peaceful Reign could improve and make some noise in the handicap division. Both are 5-year-old geldings with speed and able to get a distance of ground. Or maybe Hollywood Harbor has a good comeback as a 4-year-old and builds on the great promise he showed at age 2.

There also are several fast sprinters entering the older horse division, Avram,

Bogachiel, Boundtogetbusy and Tequila Gold, and they all appear to be training well.

And proven commodities like the aforementioned Assessment and Wasserman have both trained well for Howard Belvoir, and Assessment was the only horse to defeat Noosa Beach in 2010.

Five-time Mile winning trainer Jim Penney has stakes winners Seven Torrents and Gallon back for another season. And Doris Harwood, trainer of Noosa Beach, also has capable veterans in stakes winners Koala Beach and Margo’s Gift.

The first stakes event of the meeting for older horses is the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap on Sunday, May 22, and perennial leading trainer Tim McCanna, said 2010 Emerald Derby winner Saratoga Boot would be ready in time for the 6 ½-furlong event. The 4-year-old Arkansas-bred by Storm Boot had his first breeze of the year Friday.

Meanwhile, another McCanna runner previously ticketed for the handicap division, 5-year-old Rooster City, has been shipped to Golden Gate Fields, the trainer said.


Trainer Larry Ross and former Seattle Post-Intelligencer turf writer Dick Rockne scored new TVs the last two years on opening night at Emerald Downs.

This year, Emerald Downs will give away 50 flat-screen TV sets*up 10 from the previous two years*as the track celebrates the opening of its 16th season with first post at 6 p.m. The winner of the brand new 32-inch LCD TV sets will be announced after every race in the winner’s circle.

Entry blanks will be distributed at all admission gates. You must be 18 years old and present to win.

To thank our Facebook followers, fans that like the Emerald Downs Facebook page will be included in an exclusive drawing to win TV No. 51.


  • Jockey Pedro Terrero, whose 65 winners last season were the second highest total ever by an apprentice at Emerald Downs, has returned to Auburn after riding this winter in Mexico City. Vito Lucarelli will represent the 26-year-old native of Guanajuato, Mexico.
  • Alki Point, younger sister of Noosa Beach, finished second in a $30,000 optional maiden claimer last Sunday at Turf Paradise. A 4-year-old filly by Harbor the Gold-Julia Rose, Alki Point hadn’t raced since finishing fourth in her career debut March 7, 2010.
  • 2010 Auburn Handicap winner Posse Power finished second at 56-1 odds under Leslie Mawing in last Saturday’s $39,000 allowance feature on the turf at Golden Gate Fields. Hudson Landing led gate-to-wire in 1:37.14 while 2009 Longacres Mile runner-up Awesome Gem rallied for third.
  • Washington-bred Chukchi Sunrise is entered in Saturday’s $25,000 Princess of Palms Handicap at Turf Paradise. Vicky Baze has the mount for trainer Ryan Kenney.
  • Trainer Martin Pimentel said he has a career-high 14 runners in training at Emerald Downs, and added 2007 Top Sprinter Westsideclyde is retired and living at trainer Rose Simkins’ farm in Orting.
  • David and Jill Heerensperger have a new Irish import, Foolish Comment, entered in Thursday’s $56,000 allowance feature on the turf at Santa Anita. A 4-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding, Foolish Comment is trained by Neil Drysdale, who has trained several stakes runners for the Heerenspergers including Bourbon Bay, Hawkley Hill and Artiste Royal.
  • Premier Pegasus heads a field of 10 sophomores in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby. Post time is 4:37 p.m. for the 75th running of the Grade I classic at 1 1/8 miles. Special first post is 12 p.m.
  • Washington Hall of Fame Jockey Larry Pierce has resumed his training career with a string of six runners including Wave Rider, a 3-year-old Cahill Road filly that breezed three furlongs in :39 4/5 Wednesday. As a trainer, Pierce is best known for his work with Sneakin Jake, one of only six horses in state history to win 12 stakes. Pierce last started a horse at Emerald Downs in 2002. Trainer Rosie Simkins said Friday that the 2008 Top 3-Year-Old Filly Enumclaw Girl was bred to graded-stakes winner Congrats.
  • West Seattle Boy, Emerald Downs’ all-time leader with 18 wins, breezed five furlongs Wednesday in 1:00 3/5 (1/3) at Portland Meadows.

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