THE FIELD FOR SUNDAY’S LONGACRES MILE(G3):
|1||Stryker Phd||Leslie Mawing||5-1|
|2||Dedicated to You||Eswan Flores||20-1|
|3||Star Student||Amadeo Perez||20-1|
|4||O B Harbor||Jose Zunino||3-1|
|5||Alert Bay||Tyler Baze||7-2|
|6||Sammy Mandeville||Rocco Bowen||12-1|
|7||Cyrus Alexander||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||6-1|
|8||Point Piper||Mario Gutierrez||4-1|
|9||Sabado Alegre||Juan Gutierrez||30-1|
|10||Prime Engine||Isaias Enriquez||15-1|
|11||Indian Brut||Erick Lopez||30-1|
PROFESSOR POLLOWITZ: LONGACRES MILE CHALKBOARD
With the 81st Running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile(G3) only three days away, handicappers must employ their most effective game plan to decipher the Northwest’s richest and most prestigious race.
For this case study, we’ll break down this year’s 11-horse field using four key components–pace, class, recent form and intangibles (qualities not precisely measured)–to find the 2016 champion.
PACE MAKES THE RACE!
On paper, the pace scenario undoubtedly favors 3-1 morning-line favorite O B Harbor. Winner of four straight races–from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1-1/16 miles–O B Harbor has led at nearly every call during each of his victories. The 4-year-old Oregon-bred gelding projects to get an uncontested lead in The Mile, considering that only 30-1 long shot Sabado Alegre has been in front during the first half of a race in 2016. The Chilean-bred, however, most often prefers to be rated off the pace. The x-factor pace-wise could be Cyrus Alexander. The half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver has been known to press fast paces and could try to soften up O B Harbor early.
FACE THE BEST TO BE THE BEST!
While nine-of-11 runners are coming out of stakes races, graded-stakes company is the crème de la crème. Point Piper, having run in five straight graded-stakes races, appears to have a slight class edge over this group. The 6-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway hasn’t raced in three months but before that, he had faced the likes of Grade One winners Dortmund, California Chrome and Effinex. A case could, and probably should be made for Alert Bay as well. A five-time graded-stakes winner, Alert Bay has been the ultimate symbol of versatility. He can sprint, route, and has won races on three different surfaces. His third-place finish in last year’s Mile was solid and if it weren’t for an early move (subjectively speaking) into a hot pace, he may have had enough to hold off hard-charging closers Stryker Phd and Sammy Mandeville.
WHO’S THE HOT HORSE?
When you’ve won four straight races while setting the fastest times of the meet at each distance, you’re not hot. You’re scorching! O B Harbor has been an absolute menace in the older horse stakes division this season, and his win in the Mt. Rainier Stakes kick starts a Mile-winning pattern that should have his connections licking their chops. Over the past seven years, five Mt. Rainier winners have fired right back to capture The Mile including the last three. Aside from O B Harbor, only Indian Brut comes into this year’s Mile off a win and that race came less than two weeks ago in a five-furlong turf allowance at Santa Rosa
ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE!
Defining intangibles can be so subjective that any point of view could easily be argued until faces turn blue. However, I’ll make the case that two-time Longacres Mile champion Stryker Phd has the advantage in this category. The horse, the rider (Leslie Mawing), and the trainer (Larry Ross) have won this race the past two years so they know exactly what it takes to do it again. It would be silly to say that it’s easy to win The Mile a third straight time. The feat has yet to be accomplished in 80 years of stakes history. Nevertheless, I’d put my money on this group getting it done before many others. O B Harbor may be the “Prince of 2016” but when it comes to The Mile, 7-year-old Stryker Phd is still the King.
THE PICK: ALERT BAY
It’s hard not to fall in love with the 4-year-old campaign put forth by O B Harbor. After all, he’s the clear choice in two of the four categories mentioned above. It’s hard to ignore Stryker Phd, whose greatness could reappear on the biggest stage. However, Alert Bay brings in $1.1 million in purse earnings because he fires every time against the best competition. He’s much sharper coming into this race than he was the year before and furthermore, he has the best rider. No disrespect to two-time Kentucky Derby champ Mario Gutierrez, who rides Point Piper Sunday, but Tyler Baze has been a proven commodity on the West Coast for several years and, in my opinion, has the greatest skill set of any rider in this race. I expect that Alert Bay will be rated just off the pace, make first run at O B Harbor and cross the wire as the 2016 Longacres Mile Champion.
- Per private clocker Andy Harrington of nationalturf.com, “Big drill on Cyrus Alexander working with race mate Point Piper on August 2 with Cyrus Alexander clearly going stronger outside the urged Point Piper. Cyrus Alexander is going great. Point Piper is going OK enough.”
- Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg will be on track both Saturday and Sunday to promote his book “Jack, From Grit to Glory,” a biography by Chris Kotulak. Starting at 2:30 p.m., Van Berg will sign books for $20 above the Winner’s Circle.
- 20th Anniversary Longacres Mile glasses are this year’s giveaway item for the first 5,000 paid admissions Sunday. The tumbler features the name and year of each Mile winner at Emerald Downs.
- Emerald Downs will offer three $0.50 Pick 4 wagers on Sunday including one that starts in race five and encompasses The Peter Pedersen Memorial (race 6), Emerald Distaff (race 7) and concludes in the Longacres Mile (race 8). The other two Pick 4s start in race one and race seven, respectively.
PRINCESS KENNEDY CAN MAKE HISTORY
SUNDAY IN $65,000 EMERALD DISTAFF
With a victory Sunday in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff, Princess Kennedy would become the first horse to sweep the Distaff and the Washington Oaks in the same season.
Both races are 1 1/8 mile in distance with the Oaks the meet’s top race for 3-year-old fillies and Distaff the premier event for older fillies and mares.
A field of nine is entered in the Distaff, with the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained 4-year-old All Star Bub carrying high weight of 121 lbs with Mario Gutierrez the jockey.
Guinevere’s Finale, a 5-year-old trained by David Martinez for owner/breeder Oak Crest Farm, is next at 120 lbs with Javier Matias aboard.
Princess Kennedy figures to garner major support, however, as the 3-year-old Sun King filly comes off a sharp victory in the 1 1/8 mile Oaks, rallying to edge Brookys Star in 1:47.79 under Rocco Bowen for trainer Tom Wenzel and owner/breeder David Thorner. Her 85 Beyer is largest this year by any horse in the Distaff.
Wenzel is bidding for a third straight win in the Distaff. Stopshoppingdebbie prevailed by three-quarters of a length as a 4-year-old in 2014 and Lady Rosberg won by 3 ¾-lengths last year at age 5.
Wenzel points out, however, that the Oaks and Distaff used to be scheduled only a week apart, which made it almost impossible to convert a sweep. Still, it would be quite an accomplishment for Princess Kennedy, who in addition to winning this year’s Oaks, also won last year’s Barbara Shinpoch Stakes by 8 ¾ lengths and was voted the track’s champion 2-year-old filly.
Asked what makes a good distance horse, Wenzel said pedigree and body type are major factors, and Princess Kennedy fits the profile.
“Once you get to the routes, either they can do it or they can’t,” Wenzel said. “Yes, you have to have a horse that’s fit, but its pedigree and body shape. Princess Kennedy has length to her back, and I feel more comfortable stretching out a horse like her.”
Indeed Wenzel has been excellent in routes, compiling a 66-for-325 record (20.1%) in two-turn races at Emerald Downs, including a 21-for-96 record in route stakes. And the Wenzel/Bowen combination has been even more lethal, winning with 13-of-40 starts in stakes dating back to Makors Finale upsetting Italian Boy and D’honorable One in the 2012 Emerald Downs Derby.
- No trainer has ever swept the Longacres Mile and Emerald Distaff in the same year, although several have a chance this year. Chris Stenslie, Larry Ross, David Martinez and Jerry Hollendorfer all have horses entered in both races.
- Gallyn Mitchell with Edneator and Fleet Pacific in 2000 is the only jockey to sweep The Mile and Distaff. Eswan Flores, Tyler Baze, Rocco Bowen, Isaias Enriquez, Leslie Mawing and Mario Gutierrez have mounts in this year’s Distaff and Mile.
- The Emerald Distaff is Race 7 at 5:11 p.m.
The field for the 21st running of the Emerald Distaff at 1 1/8 miles with jockey and handicap weight: 1-Perhaps a Pie, Eswan Flores, 114 lbs; 2-Locket, Tyler Baze¸116; 3-Ole’s Miss, Jennifer Whitaker, 115; 4-Princess Kennedy (3yo), Rocco Bowen, 115; 5-Alli Leigh, Isaias Enriquez, 113; 6-Curly Girly, Leslie Mawing, 116; 7-Chronologic’sghost, Anne Sanguinetti, 117; 8-Guinevere’s Finale, Javier Matias, 120; 9-All Star Bub, Mario Gutierrez, 121.
RAILBIRD RALLY KICKS OFF MILE DAY
Longacres Mile Day festivities commence with the annual Railbird Rally this Sunday at Emerald Downs.
Hosted by Doug ‘The Goat” Cocke and 97.3 KIRO’s Dori Monson, the Railbird Rally goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the North Park. Monson and “The Goat” will conclude the two-hour program with a half hour segment focused on handicapping the day’s races. Cocke, however, will interview numerous racetrack personalities including horsemen, racetrack staff and handicappers during the show’s first 90 minutes.
The event is free to attend, but a Railbird Rally package will be offered for $5 and includes a race program, lunch and soda from one-of-two food trucks and raffle ticket for several prize drawings.
August 13: Breakfast at the Wire (8-10 a.m.)
August 14: Railbird Rally/Longacres Mile
August 20: Breakfast at the Wire (8-10 a.m.)
August 20 & 21: Turn Back The Clock Weekend
August 23: WTBOA Yearling Sale
August 27: Final Breakfast at the Wire (8-10 a.m.)
August 28: Washington Cup Day
THE PRESS BOX PODCAST: LONGACRES MILE
The Press Box Podcast will showcase every stakes race this season including Sunday’s $200,000 Longacres Mile(G3) and the $65,000 Emerald Distaff.
Hosted by Jacob Pollowitz (Professor Pollowitz) and Vince Bruun (Mr. Media), The Press Box Podcast will be a special preview edition this week and will be available for listening at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday.
The program features soundbites from owner Jody Peetz who sends out O B Harbor in The Mile and Perhaps a Pie in the Distaff. The 45-minute program also includes handicapping and a comprehensive look at the race’s history.
You can listen to the show live or recorded by visiting the track website at emeralddowns.com or at mixlr.com/emerald-downs.
BEYERS & FAST TIMES
Friday, August 5
Race 1: Delineator Express-67
Race 2: Touch of Danzig-58
Race 3: Copy Begone-62
Race 4: Knight Club-63*
Race 5: It’s Little Richie-78*
Race 6: Dare Me Devil-78
Race 7: Storm in Paris-51*
Saturday, August 6
Race 1: James First Affair (qh)
Race 2: Rtm Nr Caccia (qh)
Race 3: Livinintheleftlane-34*
Race 4: C Cn’Water-74*
Race 5: In Private-55*
Race 6: Confisio-69*
Race 7: Legal Victory-52
Race 8: Kiss My Lulu-52
Race 9: Pick by the Box-72
Race 10: Prado Royale-64*
Sunday, August 7
Race 1: Keller’s Gold-67*
Race 2: Suckitupbuttercup-49
Race 3: E Z Star Maker-80*
Race 4: Doubledeesonthetee-68
Race 5: He’s Cagey-74
Race 6: Heza Witch Doctor-71
Race 7: Westley-83*
Race 8: Blazinbeauty-55*
Race 9: So Lucky-79
Race 10: Summer Harbor-41*
# First-time starter
4 ½ Furlongs :50.22 The Chilli Man (2yo), June 26
5 Furlongs :56.45 Swiss Script (3yof), May 14
5 ½ Furlongs 1:00.97 O B Harbor (4yo), April 10
6 Furlongs 1:06.86* Kaabraaj (4yo), April 23
6 ½ Furlongs 1:13.59 O B Harbor (4yo), May 22
1 Mile: 1:34.73 O B Harbor (4yo), June 19
1 1/16 Mile: 1:41.05 O B Harbor (4yo), July 17
1 1/8 Mile: 1:47.79 Princess Kennedy (3yof), July 24
EmD TWO-MINUTE CLIP: GABI PETERSON
Group Sales’ Gabi Peterson joins track announcer Matt Dinerman for this week’s edition of the “Two-Minute Clip!”
WEEKLY HONORS #18 (August 5-7):
Jockey-Leonel Camacho-Flores; Trainer-Howard Belvoir; Owner-Pegasus Too; Quarter Chute Café Groom-Roudel Faustino (Candi Tollett); WTBOA Washington-bred-Westley (Bred by Bryan W. Smith).
In addition to the Longacres Mile and Emerald Distaff, Sunday’s card features the $22,500 Pete Pedersen Memorial for 3-year-olds and up at one mile. The field: Papa Frank, Argyle Cut, Trick Or Retreat, Mike Man’s Gold, Remembertobreathe, Coach Royal, Raspberry Road and Its Allabout Jerry. . . Argyle Cut finished runner-up to Enterprising in the 2014 Oceanside Stakes on turf at Del Mar and is trained by Manny Badilla, who also sends out Chronologic’sghost in the Emerald Distaff. . .3-year-old Algenon, stakes placed four times in California last fall and winter, makes his Emerald Downs debut Sunday in the ninth race for trainer Len Kasmerski and owner Roz Barclay. A six-furlong optional claimer for 3-year-olds, the field from the rail out includes Cipher, Algenon, John Paul’s Bet, Ididaridesolo, Capital Expense, Crushin Candy and The Press. . .Emerald Racing Club sends out 2-1 morning line favorite Diamonds Dena in Friday’s $13,600 feature race for $15,000 claiming fillies and mares at 1 1/16 mile. . .Rocco Bowen begins Week 19 with an 83-56 lead on Leslie Mawing in the jockeys’ standings, including at least one win on 20 consecutive race days. . .In the trainers’ race, Jeff Metz leads Blaine Wright 33-30 with Frank Lucarelli, 28 wins, and Howard Belvoir, 25, also in contention for the title. . .Early birthday wishes to Gallyn Mitchell who celebrates No. 53 Monday. No. 1 all-time at Emerald Downs with 1,419 wins, Mitchell scored Longacres Mile wins on Edneator (2000) and Assessment (2009).