Photo: Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs
As strange as it may seem, there is an unbeaten, three-time stakes winning daughter of two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin, out there that very few fans outside of the Pacific Northwest have ever heard of. It may be time for Stopshoppingdebbie to earn some notice on a national level. Tomorrow, she looks to remain perfect in her fifth career start while running in her biggest and longest race to date. The 1 1/8 mile Washington Oaks also could see her become the first filly to sweep all four stakes in her division at Emerald Downs.
Unbeaten in her first four starts for trainer Tom Wenzel and owner Northwest Farms, Stopshoppingdebbie has acted like a good thing from day one. Turning her only start as a juvenile into a runaway, the dark bay filly won off by seven lengths in a snappy 1:02 4/5 for the 5 ½ furlongs. In 2013, she has raced exclusively in stakes racing. Starting in May, she swept the the Seattle Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs, the Irish Day Handicap at a flat mile, and finally the Kent Handicap at 8 ½ furlongs. Now it is on to a race that her dam, Taste the Passion, fell short in 13 years ago, finishing second in the 2000 Washington Oaks.
While the Washington Oaks offers a new distance challenge, it will come against very familiar faces. Not only has Goin to the Window finished second and Blueberry Smoothie finished third in each of Stopshoppingdebbie’s three stakes wins, but they also reside in the same barn as the local heroine. So if anyone can stop the Debbie express tomorrow at Emerald Downs, it is likely a stablemate that will turn the trick in the five-horse field.
A dominating victress in her first three wins, Stopshoppingdebbie was tested for the first time in her most recent race. Scoring just a head victory in the Kent (pictured above with Stopshoppingdebbie on the right), it was Goin to the Window who hooked the 1-5 favorite early and tested her the entire way, before finally succumbing to her stablemate. The daughter of Tapit has never finished behind a horse other than Stopshoppingdebbie in five career starts. After the race, both trainer and jockey felt that Debbie may have had it too easy on slow early fractions and lost a bit of focus. Yet, she battled it out for the victory, proving that she can dig deep when needed.
"All three fillies have worked pretty solid up to the race,” Wenzel said of his Washington Oaks trio. Debbie's workouts are always slow because she's so ratable. She can go 1:03 or under a minute, whatever you want her to do. I think Goin to the Window will give Stopshoppingdebbie a good race, I really do.”
Whether she can give Stopshoppingdebbie another test, or even upset the Washington apple cart, remains to be seen, though. Expect the undefeated filly to go off a big favorite again, and if she can roll like she did in her first three, the Seattle suburban track may become too small to hold her. Playing it close to the vest, Wenzel let on little about any future plans.
"We haven't gone beyond this race so I don't know for sure (about future races). I don't want to speak for Jerre Paxton, who knows what he's going to think,” said Wenzel. Are they good enough to run in bigger races? We'll have to wait and see. I think this race could tell us a little more.”
The waiting is almost over. Is Stopshoppingdebbie good enough to take her talents on a national stage? Tune in for tomorrow’s Washington Oaks and decide for yourself.