Sports

Longacres Mile brings home the winners | Emerald Downs

Awesome Gem, left, ridden by David Flores, outruns Noosa Beach, right , with Gallyn Mitchell in the saddle, for the victory in the 2011 Longacres Mile. Noosa Beach won the 2010 Mile and the two may be dueling down the stretch for the 2012 Mile purse.  - Courtesy Emerald Downs
Awesome Gem, left, ridden by David Flores, outruns Noosa Beach, right , with Gallyn Mitchell in the saddle, for the victory in the 2011 Longacres Mile. Noosa Beach won the 2010 Mile and the two may be dueling down the stretch for the 2012 Mile purse.
— image credit: Courtesy Emerald Downs

It is called “The Mile.”

The Longacres Mile is the longest-running professional sporting event in the state.

Over the decades the Mile continues to be the marque sporting event in the third week of August.

The Mile, a grade 3 handicap stakes race with a $200,000 purse, draws many of the top thoroughbreds from across the country.

The two-turn classic was born Aug. 24, 1935, because Longacres founder Joe Gottstein thought Washington thoroughbreds needed a highlight race.

In 1935 the added purse was $10,000, the richest mile in the country, and the winner was Coldwater. The 20-1 long shot Coldwater was facing the grandson of Man o’ War, Biff.

In the stretch, Biff, carrying an extra 16 pounds, tired and Coldwater won by a neck.

The 2011 winner of the Mile, Awesome Gem, trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, was highest earner to win the race at $2.6 million and tied for the oldest with Little Rollo, 1951, and Gigantic, 1959, at 8 years old.

Awesome Gem  had lost to Howard Belvoir-conditioned Assessment in 2009. In 2011 the gelding broke the seven-race win streak of Noosa Beach, winner of the 2010 Mile.

The Doris Harwood-trained gelding won 10 of 12 races stretching across 2010 and 2011. Noosa Beach was honored as Horse of the Meet in 2010 and 2011. Noosa Beach and Awesome Gem may very well line up in the gates again for the 2012 edition of the Longacres Mile Aug. 19.

Other horses to watch as the Mile series of stakes races gets under way with the Governor’s Handicap May 20 will be Gallant Son and Posse Power, both trained by Frank Lucarelli, and Hollywood Harbor conditioned by Chris Stenslie.

Another horse ready to challenge the older boys is 3-year-old champion, Jebrica. Winner of the Emerald Downs Derby receiving a 98 Beyer speed figure, Jebrica is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney who has already won the Longacres Mile a record five times. Penney knows the way to the winner’s circle.

He’s All Heart, Larry Wolf-trained for Vic-Tory Stables, is another Washington-bred horse to watch as the Mile series progresses. Couldabenthewhisky and Zayda also could show up in the Mile gate.

And one sure bet is that as the season rolls on there will be surprises.

After the Governor’s Handicap, the next in the Mile series is the Budweiser Handicap, June 17. The Mt. Rainier Handicap is July 22.

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