Longshot Sabertooth took command early and was never headed while winning the $250,000 Longacres Mile Handicap (gr. III) by two lengths in an outstanding time of 1:34 3/5 Sunday at Emerald Downs.
The 4-year-old Washington-bred son of Petersburg, ridden by Nathan Chaves, broke a seven-race losing streak for trainer Jim Penney and owners Robert and Bruce Sparling.
"There's nothing as sweet as the first win, but every win has been very satisfying," said Penney. "We felt that the horse is a free running sort, so we decided to let him run his race and try to get him to relax. I knew that he can run. He had the ability last year. He's more mature this year."
Penney also won the Longacres Mile in 2000 with Edneator, in 1977 with Theologist and in 1973 with Silver Mallet. He joins Allen Drumheller, who won four Miles between 1941 and 1947, as the only trainers in history to win the Mile four times.
"This is the biggest win of my life so far," said Chaves. "He broke good and settled down the backside. I kept a hold of him and he did the rest. I asked him into the first turn to get a good position."
Sabertooth stalked early pacesetter San Nicolas through the opening three furlongs, took the lead and widened the advantage to three lengths over San Nicolas in the stretch. He held closing Moonlight Meeting safe all the way to the wire. Favored Mysterious Cat raced from behind early and was not a factor.
The fractions were lively: :22 4/5 for the quarter, :45 2/5 for the half and 1:08 4/5 for six furlongs.
In winning the first graded stakes start of his career, Sabertooth improved his record to four victories and four seconds in 12 starts. The $150,000 winning purse for the Northwest's most prestigious race improved Sabertooth's career earnings to more than $200,000.
Saberertooth lit the board for a $37.20, $14, and $7.60 payoff. Moonlight Meeting, the 4-1 second choice in the field of 12, returned $5 and $3.40. San Nicolas held on for the show and paid $9.20. The $2 exacta was $134.80.