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Awesome Gem headed back to defend Longacres Mile title | Emerald Downs

West Point Thoroughbreds Aweome Gem and jockey David Flores win over Noosa Beach in the 2011 Longacres Mile (G3) at Emerald Downs.  - Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo
West Point Thoroughbreds Aweome Gem and jockey David Flores win over Noosa Beach in the 2011 Longacres Mile (G3) at Emerald Downs.
— image credit: Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo

North America’s richest active money-earner is headed back to Emerald Downs as trainer Craig Dollase said Awesome Gem is a go for the $200,000 Longacres Mile on Sunday, Aug. 19.

A 9-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Awesome Again, Awesome Gem has compiled an 11-15-6 record in 51 career starts with earnings of $2,851,370 for West Point Thoroughbreds.

A victory would make Awesome Gem the oldest horse to win the Longacres Mile and the first horse to win the race twice at Emerald Downs.

“We’re looking forward to defending our title,” Dollase said from his base at Del Mar, where Awesome Gem drilled three furlongs Sunday in :36-3/5. “He’s doing well since his last race, and everyone up there (at Emerald Downs) knows Awesome Gem is a good horse.”

Awesome Gem’s last race was a third in the June 30 Cornhusker Handicap (G3) over 1-1/8 miles at Prairie Meadows. Awesome Gem relishes a slightly shorter distance and is 3-1-0 in four career starts at one mile, including last year’s 1-½-length triumph over Noosa Beach in 1:34.80. Awesome Gem’s two wins in 2012 were both at Golden Gate Fields including the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in which he finished second but was moved to first via a disqualification of Positive Response.

Dollase said Awesome Gem would likely remain at Del Mar until four or five days before the race and ship north with Sergio Martin, the assistant trainer who accompanied Awesome Gem to Emerald Downs for last year’s victory and a runner-up finish in 2009.

A FULL FIELD EXPECTED FOR LONGACRES MILE (G3)

AS PROSPECTIVE FIELD TAKES SHAPE

With less than one month to go, the countdown has officially begun to the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3). And while nominations don’t close officially until Sunday, Aug. 5, the list of possible starters shows tremendous promise for the Northwest’s most prestigious race.

Trainer Frank Lucarelli, for example, has three prospects for the meet’s premier event with Winning Machine, Gallant Son and Posse Power, and Tim McCanna said he could have both Saratoga Boot and Jersey Town in The Mile. Add in the expected Hastings’ shippers* Taylor Said and St Liams Halo*along with Hudson Landing, and the contention runs deep

Average field-size for the past five Longacres Miles has been 11.8 horses (actually 12, but St Liams Halo scratched on race day in 2011) and this year is taking shape as an overflow field. Listed below are horses whose connections have expressed interest in competing in this year’s Mile.

In alphabetical order: Assessment, Awesome Gem, Bailouttheminister, Commander, Gallant Son, Gladding, Hollywood Harbor, Hudson Landing, Jebrica, Jersey Town, Posse Power, Saratoga Boot, Senor Rojo, Taylor Said, Winning Machine.

If more than 12 horses enter The Mile, high weights are preferred.

· Saturday’s seventh race, a $21,000 purse for allowance/optional claimers at 6-½ furlongs, marks the 2012 debut of 2009 Longacres Mile winner Assessment, and also features Mile hopefuls Jebrica, Posse Power and Saratoga Boot.

 

BENNETT HAS ONE-TWO PUNCH IN PREMIO ESMERALDA

Dave Bennett is renowned for his good work with 2-year-olds, and the veteran trainer should be licking his lips Sunday with two great chances to capture his second stakes win of the meet in the $50,000 Premio Esmeralda Stakes for colts and geldings.

Master’s Bluff has the edge after a tenacious nose victory in the July 3 Slewdledo Stakes, and his tactical speed combined with jockey Rocco Bowen makes him a strong candidate for back-to-back stakes wins.

In contrast, the Beyer Speed Figures favor Master’s Bluff’s stable mate, Gilmore, who received a 50 Beyer*the field’s highest number*after a 1-¼-length score in a $25,000 maiden claimer on July 14. Bennett said he expects both geldings to run well, but even he can’t decipher who will run best on Sunday.

“I think both are big, powerful looking horses,” Bennett said. “I asked our gallop boy Dan Brock who was better, and he couldn’t pull them apart either. I guess we’ll have to see what happens Sunday, but I know I’m looking forward to seeing who comes out on top.”

The Premio Esmeralda is Race 8 on a nine-race card. Post time is 5:39 p.m.

To celebrate Fiesta Premio Esmeralda, Emerald Downs will give away special T-shirts to the first 2,000 paid admissions Sunday.

The field for the 17th running of the Premio Esmeralda Stakes: 1, Scat Daddybaby, Juan Gutierrez, 120 lbs.; 2, Luna Tick, William Antongeorgi, 120; 3, Master’s Bluff, Bowen, 120; 4, Finallygotabentley, Gallyn Mitchell, 118; 5, Cariboo Road, Debbie Hoonan, 118; 6, Mike Man’s Gold, Javier Matias, 120; 7, Music of My Soul, Leslie Mawing, 118; Gilmore, Jennifer Whitaker, 120.

 

NOTES: Week 15 honors: Jockey-Eliska Kubinova (26-6-5-2); Trainer-Terry Gillihan (2-2-0-0); Owner-Duane Weber & Jeff Harwood (2-2-0-0); Groom-TBA (); Washington Bred-River of Aces (Dean Essex DVM)*The top three finishers in the Mt. Rainier Handicap*Hudson Landing, St Liams Halo and Winning Machine*all were assigned 93 Beyers after finishing a neck apart in 1:40.77 for 1-1/16 miles*Blueberry Smoothie earned a 66 Beyer*biggest of the season for a 2-year-old*for her maiden special weight victory Saturday in 1:03.22 for 5-½ furlongs*Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores is scheduled to resume riding Friday with a mount on Snooper Dauper in the fourth race. Camacho-Flores, fifth in the standings with 36 wins, sustained an arm injury in a riding mishap Friday, July 13*Leslie Mawing begins the week with 1,987 career wins, and has a streak of 15 straight days with at least one win. Mawing, 38, trails Juan Gutierrez by a 61-53 margin in the jockeys’ standings*Eliska Kubinova rode three winners Wednesday at Portland Meadows and is one victory shy of becoming only the third apprentice to ride 50 winners in a single season at Emerald Downs*20 years ago today, July 26, 1992, Peterhof’s Patea rolled to a three-length victory in the Budweiser Handicap and Bud Klokstad set a single-season Longacres record with his ninth stakes win. Klokstad and Peterhof’s Patea are both enshrined in the Washington Racing Hall of Fame*In addition to the $50,000 Premio Esmeralda Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings, Sundays’ nine-race card includes a $19,950 allowance/optional claiming race at 6-½ furlongs featuring Polish Dollar and Malibu Rum both attempting to win their fourth races at the meet. The field also includes 2011 stakes winner Our Eagle Boy and the sharp Rocky’s Quest, coming off the fastest mile of the meeting, 1:34.16, in a July 7 $20,000 claiming race*Wright, trainer of Rocky’s Quest, said he has another horse hopeful of running a fast mile. That would be Hudson Landing, the 5-year-old Maria’s Mon gelding who edged St Liams Halo and Winning Machine in last Sunday’s Mt. Rainier Handicap thriller at 1-1/16 miles. “All and all, everything went pretty well,” Wright said of Hudson Landing. “He’ll start light training again Friday.”*Saturday is the 1st annual Food Truck Day with 12 food trucks on-site in the north park area.

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