Frank Lucarelli came within a scant horse head of the capturing the Longacres Mile, grade 3, the top race of the season at Emerald Downs.
Lucarelli, who lives in Enumclaw, saw his 6-year-old bay gelding Winning Machine lead for most of the race before losing to Mike Puhich-trained Taylor Said.
It was the first Mile victory for Renton-native Puhich and the best finish for a Lucarelli-trained horse in the Mile.
Jocky Mario Gutierrez was in the irons on Taylor Said at 122 pounds. Gutierrez has had a big season, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness aboard I’ll Have Another – the only jockey to win both the Derby and Longacres Mile in a year.
Winning Machine was ridden by Javier Matias at 119 pounds, running from the third post. Taylor Said ran from the ninth post.
Matias guided Winning Machine to the lead by the quarter-mile pole and set the pace with fractions of 22.3 seconds in the quarter, 46.1 in the half.
In the stretch Taylor Said challenged Winning Machine, taking the lead. Winning Machine dug back in and it looked like he might grab the lead back as the two battled down the lane to a photo finish.
“I thought someone would go early,” Matias said. “I had the inside post, so it made sense for me to take the lead. He ran so big, I’m so happy with how he ran. (Taylor Said) passed us easily, but my horse came right back. I don’t think we ever got the lead back, but he dug in the whole way. I had to ride him pretty hard.”
Taylor Said ran the mile in 1:33.77 and paid $7.20, $4.60 and $3.20.Winning Machine paid $8 and $4.40.
Taylor Said earned $110,000 for the win and Winning Machine picked up $40,000 for second.
Lucarelli is currently the leading trainer at Emerald Downs with 39 wins. He took the leading trainer title last year with 53 wins.