California invader Point Piper winds Longacres Mile with dramatic stretch

Point Piper wins the 2016 Longacres Mile Aug. 14 at Emerald Downs.

California invader Point Piper came into Emerald Downs Sunday, Aug. 14, and won the $200,000 Grade 3 Longacres Mile setting a track record in 1 minute, 32.9 seconds.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer took the exacta in the race with Point Piper on top and Cyrus Alexander running second. The two Kentucky-breds were the second and third betting choices. Point Piper edged Cyrus Alexander as the second betting choice at 5.10-to-1 and Cyrus Alexander was third choice at 5.30-to-1

The 6-5 betting favorite O B Harbor, trained by Chris Stenslie, ran third, holding the lead until the final furlong when Point Piper came from three wide in the stretch to grab the lead. The 6-year-old horse crossed the finish line with a 4-3/4 length cushion.

Mario Gutierrez rode Point Piper for Hollendorfer. It was the second Longacres Mile victory for Gutierrez and Hollendorfer. Gutierrez rode Taylor Said to the winner’s circle in the 2012 Longacres Mile. Hollendorfer won the Mile in 2004 with Adreamisborn.

Co-owner Dan Gatto said, “Every time he (Mario Gutierrez) rides one of our horses we win.” Gatto owns the horse along with Hollendorfer.

Following the race Gutierrez said Point Piper was relaxed early in the race and after the final turn, “we found the spot we wanted and he exploded in stretch.”

The 2016 Longacres Mile had a Gutierrez, Doug O’Neil connection that will probably end up as a question in a trivia contest.

As in 2012, Gutierrez rode the winning horse in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, Nyquist, trained by Doug O’Neil, prior to winning the Mile. In 2012 Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby riding I’ll Have Another, also trained by Doug O’Neil, prior to winning the Mile riding Taylor Said.

The connection continues with the Mile track record broken by Point Piper and Gutierrez this year. The record was previously set in 2003 by Sky Jack, also trained by Doug O’Neil. Sky Jack ran the Mile in 1:33.

O B Harbor set early fractions of 22.3 seconds, 44.3 and 1:08.3.

Point Piper paid $12.20 for a $2 win ticket, $6 to place and $4 to show.

Cyrus Alexander paid $6.80 and $4.40 and O B Harbor paid $2.80.

The $200,000 purse broke down as $110,000 for first, $40,000 for second, $30,000 third, $15,000 fourth and $5,000 for third.