Firmly stamping himself a top contender for next month’s Longacres Mile, Herbie D shipped in from Canada and scored a convincing front-running victory Sunday in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Emerald Downs.
With regular rider Amadeo Perez aboard at 120 lbs, Herbie D ran 1 1/16 miles in a stakes record 1:40.52 and paid $6.20 as the betting favorite. Robert Gilker is the trainer for owners George Robbins of Cobble Hill, British Columbia and Darcia Dohman of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia.
Herbie D led virtually gate-to-wire, setting fractions of :23.68, :47.39, 1:10.43 and 1:34.28 en route to the 2 ¾-length victory. Winner of four stakes races at Hastings Racecourse, Herbie D is 9-1-1 in 12 career starts with earnings of $227,928, A 5-year-old B.C.-bred by Orchid’s Devil-Chilil Chines, Herbie D earned $27,500 for the victory and rates a good chance to become the second straight B.C.-bred to win the Longacres Mile after Taylor Said prevailed in 2012.
Stryker Phd, ridden by Debbie Hoonan at 116 lbs, rallied from last to finish second, and paid $4.20 and $3.60. Trained by Margo Lloyd, the 4-year-old Washington-bred gelding has finished second in all three races this season in the older handicap division.
It was 1 ¾-lengths back to Jebrica in third place. Ridden by Isaias Enriquez at 119 lbs, Jebrica paid $3.40 to show.
Winning Machine, trained by Enumclaw trainer Frank Lucarelli, Tres Borrachos and Hoist completed the order of finish. The 5-to-2 second choice, Tres Borrachos was “just empty today” according to jockey David Flores.
No such problems for Herbie D and jockey Perez, as they were away in good order from the No. 1 post-position, and dictated the race up front.
“I am just so happy right now,’” said Perez, the defending riding champion at Hastings Racecourse. “I wasn’t expecting to get the lead that easy, and I’m so happy that I did. I just want to thank everybody for letting me ride him today. He’s a very nice horse, and I just can’t wait for (The Longacres Mile).”
Hoonan said Stryker Phd could be tough in The Mile, especially if there is a more contested pace.
“(Stryker Phd) was ready to make his run but it was hard to close into the others with the pace the way it was,” Hoonan said. “He fills his lungs with air and starts smoking like a locomotive. He changed back to the wrong lead in the stretch but he galloped out strong.
“I'm proud to be part of Margo (Lloyd’s) team. It's an awesome feeling to be part of a horse headed to the Mile.”
The 78th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) is Sunday, August 18.
NOTES: Although he finished fifth aboard Tres Borrachos, David Flores got a feel for the track in race six, rallying Sweet Nellie Brown ($7) to a hard-fought neck victory over Roarified in 1:44.02 for 1 1/16-mile. The runner-up was claimed for $10,000 by trainer Roy Lumm, and now has a career mark of 10-1-0 in 17 starts*Isaias Enriquez, Eliska Kubinova and Leonel Camacho-Flores rode two winners each, and after 14 weeks Enriquez leads Juan Gutierrez 64-62 in the jockeys’ standings*Frank Lucarelli book-ended the card with victories by All My Friends ($3.80) in the first and Ugotthemoneyhoney in race 10, and jumped to a 26-25 lead over Jeff Metz atop the trainers’ standings. Tim McCanna, Chris Stenslie and Charles Essex are tied for third with 20 wins apiece*Trainer Jim Penney also had two wins Sunday*Churchbob ($10.20) improved to two-for-two lifetime with a victory in race five for trainer Robert Lawrence and owner Tom Grether Farms Inc. The 4-year-old gelding debuted with a 9 ¼-length victory at Sun Downs in April. Grether has owned several stakes winners in California, including the top filly Intangaroo, a daughter of Orientate who won three Grade 1 sprints in 2008*Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:45 p.m*Simulcast wagering includes aWednesday Pick Six carryover of $238,499 at Del Mar.