Jim and Mona Hour's Stryker Phd, a 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Bertrando, is the 121-pound highweight and 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Aug. 24 Longacres Mile (gr. III) at Emerald Downs.
This will be the 79th running of the Longacres Mile that was first run in 1935 at the old Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Wash. That track closed in 1992.
Stryker Phd rallied from 11th to finish second in last year's running when trained by Margo Lloyd but comes to this year's renewal with a stronger foundation under him. A year ago he had three consecutive runner-up stakes efforts leading to the Pacific Northwest's top race and this year, under the tutelage of Larry Ross, he's a perfect 2-for-2 off a long layoff, setting stakes records in both efforts.
The gelding made his seasonal bow June 15 with a 3 1/4-length score in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap (1:34.15), which was followed by a one-length victory in the Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/16 miles (1:40.20). Both efforts came under rider Leslie Mawing, who has the assignment again Sunday. Stryker Phd also signaled his readiness with a :46 bullet half-mile drill Aug. 17 over the Emerald Downs surface.
At the post position draw, Stryker Phd drew post 9 in the 12-horse line-up.
"He should be able to get into a good position," Ross told the Emerald Downs press crew. "Being on the outside, Leslie (Mawing) can look in and monitor the pace. You couldn't really ask for anything better with his training. I think he's really good right now, for sure. I think his racing schedule will be an advantage. They say third time out of the box is the peak race."
Out of the Smart Strike mare Striking Scholar, Stryker Phd was bred by Char Clark Thoroughbreds and Todd Havens.
The Mike Puhich-trained Prohibition (3-1) and Peter Redekop's Title Contender (9-2) figure in the mix in the Longacres Mile.
Prohibition (Lawyer Ron—Tuesday Prayer, by Holy Bull) is a front-running type who should be able to dictate the early tempo from post 3 while making his West Coast debut. The New York-bred now races for Mark Dedomenico and North American Thoroughbred Racing after beginning his career for Paul Pompa Jr. and Red Storm Stable, and Two Hands and Lynch Racing. In his last effort, May 31 at Belmont Park, the 4-year-old gelding was fourth behind Zivo in the Commentator Stakes, the marquee race on New York Showcase Day. Zivo came back to win the July 5 Suburban Handicap (gr. II) in New York.
Prohibition's path on the front end won't be clear as local hope Disruption should be in the frame early. The Florida-bred son of Street Boss faded late behind Stryker Phd and Dontmesswithkitten in the Mt. Rainier, but has a sixteenth of a mile less to travel.
"I've never seen him this good before," said trainer Monique Snowden. "His workouts are amazing. His attitude is amazing. He might win. He might not. But he'll be right there."
Snowden took over the training of the gelding over the winter for owner Heidi Nelson. At the meet the trainer has a 36% win rate (5-1-2) from 14 starters.
Title Contender, by Pulpit out of the Roy mare Winter Garden, has taken a circuitous route to the Longacres Mile. Once trained by Bob Baffert for Gary and Mary West, Title Contender ran eighth behind eventual juvenile male champion Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) off a maiden win in 2012, and won the following year's Ohio Derby (gr. III).
Sold to Redekop and trained by Anita Bolton, Title Contender has made his past seven starts against stakes company at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, B.C., with three wins and three seconds. Emerald Downs, Sunday, August 24, 2014, Race 7
He brings back-to-back bullet works to the Mile and a 1 1/4-length score in the 6 1/2-furlong David Forster Hall of Fame Stakes Aug. 4 under Rico Walcott.
The Mile goes as race 7 and has a post of 5:09 p.m. PDT. Also on the card is the $65,000 Emerald Distaff featuring 124-pound highweight Stopshoppingdebbie, Northwest Farms' Curlin homebred who is unbeaten in eight starts at Emerald Downs. The seven-time stakes winner has earned $211,273.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Jebrica (WA) Alex Bisono 116 Michael Puhich - 2 2Dontmesswithkitten (KY) Rocco Bowen 116 Chris Stenslie - 3 3Prohibition (NY) Isaias D. Enriquez 118 Michael Puhich - 4 4Twistgrips (BC) Amadeo Perez 115 John Snow - 5 5Disruption (FL) Eliska Kubinova 116 Monique Snowden - 6 6Boyett (OR) Agapito Delgadillo 117 Mark Glatt - 7 7Title Contender (KY) Rico W. Walcott 121 Anita Bolton - 8 8Scat Daddybaby (KY) Gallyn Vick Mitchell 115 Robert Baze - 9 9Stryker Phd (WA) Leslie Mawing 121 Larry D. Ross - 10 10Mysterious Soul (KY) Richard Harvey Hamel 116 Barbara Heads - 11 11Mr. Bowling (KY) David G. Lopez 117 Michael Puhich - 12 12Shooting Jacket (KY) Felipe Valdez 115 Dino K. Condilenios -
Emerald Downs, Sunday, August 24, 2014, Race 7