WALLA WALLA - After weeks of unsettled spring weather, the weekend forecast looks just right for balloons - and horse racing.
Walla Walla's Spring Meet - two days of pari-mutuel horse racing - is on tap Saturday and Sunday at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds and will be held in conjunction with the 36th annual Walla Walla Balloon Stampede. Post time is 1 p.m. both days and admission is free.
Mostly sunny skies and temperatures approaching 70 degrees are forecast for both days. And winds are expected to be light, which will please balloonists.
Saturday's racing card features nine races - eight of them of the Thoroughbred variety and one Quarter Horse race. Three of the races are slated to feature full eight-horse fields and there are seven entries in four other races.
Saturday's only featured race is the Kenny Smith Memorial, a Quarter Horse Allowance at 250 yards for 3-year-olds and older that have not won three races in their lifetime. There are six Quarter Horses running for the $1,700 purse.
Shorty Martin, who is serving as the racing secretary, hopes to have another nine races scheduled for Sunday, and possibly 10. And there will be several featured races, including the Dick Monahan Memorial Quarter Horse Derby.
The Derby, which is for 3-year-olds, is a 250-yard dash and will be run in memory of the former Walla Walla racing director and longtime Quarter Horse advocate who died in December of last year.
Sunday's other features are the Queen's Derby for Thoroughbreds at a mile and an eighth, the 660 Mixed Breed Championship and the 250 Quarter Horse Championship.
"I originally planned to have the 250 Championship on Saturday," Martin explained. "We didn't get enough entries, but we're trying to get it set up for Sunday."
Martin is pleased with the number of horses on hand for the two-day meet.
"There seems to be a few more horses around," Martin said. "I think everybody is participating a little bit better this year.
"Boise's not running this year, and we usually lose a few when they run," he added. "We're not the only game in town because Emerald Downs is still running, but they generally attract a little better class of horses."
And as for the weather?
"Looks good," Martin said early this morning as he surveyed the balloon-dotted sky from the fairgrounds race office. "Looks really good."
FIRST RACE (Thoroughbred Maiden, 3-year-olds and older, 5 furlongs) - 1, Settlethegrade, Ruben Camacho; 2, Almost Toast, Connie Doll; 3, Rockadee, Terrence Birdrattler; 4, Canadian's Pedro, Freddy Ibarra; 5, Free Biscuit, Hugo Herrera; 6, Laydyledo, Jose Rivera Jr.; 7, Crafty Reasoning, Nate Parker; 8, Slew's Indy, Ashley Zacherle.
SECOND RACE (Quarter Horse Claiming, 3-year-olds and older which have not won two races, 5 furlongs) - 1, Stylish Miss, Nikeela Black; 2, Indy n' Slew, Hugo Herrera; 3, Deep River, Ruben Camacho; 4, De Heatison, Connie Doll; 5, Smurff's Up, Ashley Zacherle; 6, Snowbound Queen, Greg Goosby; 7, Snowbound Vicky, Freddy Ibarra.
THIRD RACE (Kenny Smith Memorial Quarter Horse Allowance, 3-year-olds and older which have not won three races, 250 yards) - 1, McSteamy, Terrance Birdrattler; 2, Kipa Donna Deucy, Nikeela Black; 3, Pillar, Ruben Camacho; 4, Cowboys Wrangler, Connie Doll; 5, Alacran Juan, Hugo Herrera; 6, Razorback, Freddy Ibarra.
FOURTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, 3-year-olds and older which have not won three races, 5 furlongs) - 1, Trieste‘d N True, Terrance Birdrattler; 2, Sher Veil, Hugo Herrera; 3, Rob N Gin's Prince, Freddy Ibarra; 4, Witchonachopper, Ashley Zacherle; 5, Kurama, Nikeela Black; 6, Brakeman, Greg Goosby; 7, Slew's Aneata, Jose Rivera Jr.; 8, Alpine Star, Connie Doll.
FIFTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and older, 7 furlongs) - 1, Star's Promise, Terrance Birdrattler; 2, Kings Jenie, Nikeela Black; 3, Turning Heads, Ashley Zacherle; 4, Moments in May, Connie Doll; 5, Clever Steal, Hugo Herrera; 6, Flexible Loyalties, Ruben Camacho.
SIXTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and older, 5 furlongs) - 1, Smart Olivia, Jose Rivera Jr.; 2, Hot Tub Party, Terrance Birdrattler; 3, Colorful Tune, Hugo Herrera; 4, Sultana's Secret, Nikeela Black; 5, Chance To Make It, Ruben Camacho; 6, Shudaboxedit, Ashley Zacherle; 7, Random Passage, Connie Doll.
SEVENTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, 3-year-olds and older which have not won a race in 2010, 5 furlongs) - 1, Irish Yodeler, Greg Goosby; 2, Black Canyon Bart, Nikeela Black; 3, Rudeameanie, Hugo Herrera; 4, Miller's Charm, Ruben Camacho; 5, Billy Stark, Ashley Zacherle; 6, Gear Up and Fly, Terrance Birdrattler; 7, Swiss Ace, Connie Doll.
EIGHTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, 3-year-olds and older, 5 furlongs) - 1, Lasting Influence, Connie Doll; 2, Box Top, Nikeela Black; 3, Giggle For Goldy, Jose Rivera Jr.; 4, Totally Brilliant, Terrance Birdrattler; 5, Amazing Feat, Ruben Camacho; 6, Quatro, Hugo Herrera; 7, Jimmie the Grouch, Ashley Zacherle; 8, Run N Chumaree, Freddy Ibarra; 9, Shad Nikeela Black; 10, Rush Ahead, Terrance Birdrattler.
NINTH RACE (Thoroughbred Claiming, 3-year-olds and older that have not won a race in 2010, 5 furlongs) - 1, He's Ally's Topone, Terrance Birdrattler; 2, Easter Sonny Boy, Nikeela Black; 3, Spirit Bear, Connie Doll; 4, West Walker, Jose Rivera Jr.; 5, Shakalaka, Freddy Ibarra; 6, Les Crime, Hugo Herrera; 7, Hollywood Brass, Ruben Camacho.