Gallant Son makes his long-awaited return to the northwest as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $250,000 Longaces Mile (gr. III) at Emerald Downs Aug. 22.
Trained by Frank Lucarelli, who also entered Winning Machine in the Longacres Mile, Gallant Son drew post 8 in the 12-horse field and will be ridden by Leslie Mawing. Gallant Son, who has been racing in California for owners Chris Randall and Nick Rossi, is the 121-pound high weight.
The 4-year-old Malabar Gold gelding has raced in 12 stakes, including nine that were graded, since capturing the Gottstein Futurity in 2008 at Emerald Downs. Gallant Son's most notable win came on the turf in the $100,000 Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) on May 31 at Hollywood Park.
The Kentucky-bred worked four furlongs Aug. 18 in :47 3/5. Lucarelli said his horse is ready, and he would like to see Gallant Son sitting five or six lengths off the pace.
"In a perfect world, the leaders will make a good pace for him," Lucarelli said. "Drawing the eight-hole is OK, because his style shouldn't be affected. I didn't want to draw any wider, though."
Stablemate Winning Machine drew the rail and is listed at 20-1 on the morning line. He will be ridden by Inoel Beato.
"I love the one-hole for Winning Machine," Lucarelli said. "I really want him to get into the race right from the first turn."
The winner of the 2010 Mile qualifies for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. The race is the eighth on the Emerald Downs program with a probable post of 5:39 p.m. PDT.
Other leading contenders are Noosa Beach (3-1 on the morning line), defending champion Assessment (5-1) and Teide (6-1). The field also includes the 2008 Mile winner Wasserman, who has been off form so far in 2010 and is pegged at 20-1. Both Assessment and the 8-year-old Wasserman are trained by Howard Belvoir, who is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Longacres Mile victory.
Jeff Harwood's 4-year-old Noosa Beach, to be ridden by Ricky Frazier with 120 pounds, is conditioned by Doris Harwood, Emerald Downs' all-time leading trainer in stakes victories, with 46. But she has never won the track's most prestigious race. Noosa Beach, who drew post 5, has performed well in each of his five starts this year.
He won the Seattle Handicap May 16 while equaling the track record for six furlongs of 1:07 flat established by Atta Boy Roy . Noosa Beach then crushed his foes, including four rivals in the Mile, in taking the Budweiser Handicap by 9 1/4 lengths June 20.
Assessment is the only horse to defeat Noosa Beach this year, scoring by a neck in the Governor's Handicap July 11. Noosa Beach bounced right back to win the Mt. Rainier Handicap, the final local prep for the Longacres Mile, by 4 1/2 lengths Aug. 1.
"He is doing so well," Frazier said. "He has been peaking since April."
Tice Ranch Stables' 6-year-old Assessment overcame post 12 last year to score at odds of 7-1 over Awesome Gem. He is bidding to be the first horse to win consecutive runnings of the race at Emerald Downs. Assessment suffered an ankle chip shortly after last year's race and was held out of competition until May. After his win in the Governor's, Belvoir said he is expecting a big effort from the Jump Start gelding.
"He always seems to find trouble, but then he always overcomes it," Belvoir said. "He'll run huge."
Regular rider Gallyn Mitchell, the all-time leader in wins at Emerald Downs, has the mount. Assessment will have to overcome a wide draw again from post 11.
Belvoir bred and owns Wasserman, who became the all-time leading purse earner at Washington racetracks with $525,299 after a fifth-place finish in the Mt. Rainier. Wasserman owns a 10-10-7 mark in 52 lifetime starts,
The gelding will run in his fourth straight Mile (3rd, 2007; 1st, 2008, 4th, 2009). Wasserman gave one of the most memorable Mile performances in 2008 when he scored a neck victory to make Jennifer Whitaker the first female jockey to win the Mile. The Snohomish native will ride Wasserman for the 28th straight time.
Sabertooth (2002) and Adreamisborn (2004) were the last two previous Mile winners to compete in a later Mile, when they faced off in 2005.
Trainer Dino Condilenios plans to start a trio in this year's Mile with Burj Dubai, Teide and Almost Time scheduled to ship in from Hastings Racecourse.
"All three horses are doing great, and I expect each one to be a contender to win the Mile," said Condilenios, who finished third with both Lord Nelson in 2003 and Teide in 2009.
Multiple stakes winner Teide has apparently recovered from a quarter crack injury that he sustained after winning the Lieutenant Governor's Handicap on July 25. The Kentucky-bred worked six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 last week and will be ridden by regular rider Chad Hoverson.
Alex Solis has the call on Burj Dubai (10-1), who recently finished second in the SW Randall Plate at Hastings. The son of Distorted Humor appears primed for a big effort after working five furlongs in a bullet :57 2/5 Aug. 14 at Hastings.
"It was a littler quicker than I would have liked, but when he sees other horses, he wants to go," Condilenios said.
Almost Time (15-1) comes off a 4 ½-length victory in the BC Cup Sprint on Aug. 2 and will be ridden by Frank Fuentes.
Jockey Russell Baze, the all-time riding leader with more than 11,000 wins, will ride Davos for trainer Junior Coffey at 15-1.
$250,000 Longacres Mile Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 5:39 p.m.), 3 & Up
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Winning Machine (KY), I Beato, 116, F Lucarelli, 20/1
2. Senor Rojo (KY), M A Perez, 115, D Forster, 15/1
3. Wasserman (WA), J Whitaker, 114, H Belvoir, 20/1
4. Jersey Town (KY), K Krigger, 116, T McCanna, 15/1
5. Noosa Beach (WA), R Frazier, 120, D Harwood, 3/1
6. Gallon (KY), J M Gutierrez, 115, J Penney, 20/1
7. Almost Time (BC), F P Fuentes, 119, D K Condilenios, 15/1
8. Gallant Son (KY), L Mawing, 121, F Lucarelli, 5/2
9. Teide (KY), C Hoverson, 120, D K Condilenios, 6/1
10. Davos (KY), R A Baze, 114, J L Coffey, 15/1
11. Assessment (KY), G V Mitchell, 118, H Belvoir, 5/1
12. Burj Dubai (KY), A O Solis, 115, D K Condilenios, 10/1