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Mitchell wins Mile in record fashion
With Enumclaw jockey Gallyn Mitchell in the strirrups, Assessment overcame the outside post position and defeated a star-studded field Sunday in the 74th running of the $300,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.
Mitchell, Emerald Downs’ all-time leading rider, and Assessment ran the mile in 1 minute, 33 2/5 seconds on a fast track and paid $16.60, $7.20 and $5.20. The winner carried 119 pounds while producing the first victory from the 12-hole since 1935.
An emotional Mitchell was near tears in the winner’s circle, receiving congratulations on his second Longacres Mile win from his wife/agent Denise, trainer Howard Belvoir and owners Lou and Diane Tice (Tice Ranch Stables) of Seattle.
“I don’t want to sound cocky but I honestly believed I was on the best horse,” Mitchell said. “I know we were in against some great horses, but I have all the confidence in Assessment. Anyone who has ridden him seven times like I have would feel the same way.”
Mitchell, who turned 47 Saturday, capped a spectacular weekend in which he also won Saturday’s $75,000 Washington Oaks on No Flies On Doodle.
In the Longacres Mile, Assessment finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Awesome Gem, the California millionaire.
Assessment was able to avoid a wide trip – a key to success – and was only two-deep into the first turn. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred by Jump Start was in sixth place early as Atta Boy Roy and jockey Rick Frazier carved out splits of :21 4/5, :44 and 1:07 3/5. Assessment angled out nearing the five-sixteenths marker, entered the stretch about two lengths back of Atta Boy Roy, collared the leader in the final sixteenth and held off Awesome Gem.
Awesome Gem, ridden by Hall of Famer Russell Baze, won a photo for second place and paid $3.80 and $2.80. Teide, a Canadian invader with Chad Hoverson aboard at 117 pounds, was a nose back in third and paid $5.60.
Defending champion Wasserman, also trained by Belvoir, rallied from last under Jennifer Whitaker to finish a strong fourth. Atta Boy Roy, whose 1:07 3/5 was the fastest opening six furlongs in the history of the race, finished fifth, followed by Bank Emblem, Autism Awareness, Gallon, Sierra Sunset, Kruger Park, Trumpet Player Jay and Crafty Power.
The victory automatically qualified Assessment for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in November.
“We’ll see how he comes back from this race and go from there,” Belvoir said of the Breeders’ Cup.
Belvoir said all week he could envision a scenario where Assessment could get a good trip from the 12-hole.
“Not often it goes to plan, but today it went to plan,” Belvoir said. “We got a batter trip than even I thought we would.”
Assessment earned $165,000 to raise his bankroll to $355,980. His overall mark is 7-4-3 in 25 starts, including a fourth place finish in the 2008 Longacres Mile. In rising to the top at Emerald Downs in 2009, Assessment has four wins and three seconds in seven starts and $257,000 in earnings. He has won three stakes, the Budweiser-Emerald Handicap at one mile, Mount Rainier Handicap at 1 1/8 miles and the Longacres Mile.