Red-hot Taylor Said, back in action just 13 days after setting a track record at Hastings Racecourse, held off Winning Machine in the final strides Aug. 19 to capture the $200,000 Longacres Miles (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a head in the signature race at Emerald Downs.
Mario Gutierrez, who achieved stardom with his unlikely victories aboard I'll Have Another in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, rode Taylor Said to victory. The winning trainer, Michael Puhich, is the nephew of Gutierrez's agent, Ivan Puhich. Gutierrez is currently based at Hastings.
Michael Puhich conditions Taylor Said for the North American Thoroughbred Horse Company. This was the first Longacres Mile win for all of the connections.
Taylor Said, a 4-year-old gelding by Stephanotis out of Fleet Amyanne, by Western Fame, earned his sixth consecutive victory. He completed the one-mile distance in a sizzling 1:33.79, slightly off the track record of 1:33 flat set by Sky Jack in winning the Longacres Mile in 2003.
Winning Machine finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over the late-running 2-1 favorite Awesome Gem, who rallied along the inside from sixth while attempting to repeat his victory of a year ago in the Longacres Mile. Awesome Gem, a grade I winner and earner of more than $2.85 million, was the 123-pound high weight in the field of 10. Taylor Said, the second choice at 5-2 odds, toted 122.
Clive Lytle, Linda Lytle, and Can-A-Mex Farms bred the winning dark bay in British Columbia. Taylor Said is the first since Silver Double in 1970 to win the Longacres Mile after making his most recent start in Canada. In that race, the Redekop British Columbia Cup Classic Aug. 6, Taylor Said won by 6 1/4 lengths while timed in 1:47.91 for 1 1/8 miles.
Winning Machine, with Javier Matias aboard, set the pace in the Longacres Mile while narrowly leading Hudson Landing and Taylor Said. His quarter mile splits were :23.70, :46.38, and 1:09.30. Hudson Landing, between horses, quickly gave way at the quarter pole and the race was down to two horses in the stretch. Winning Machine stubbornly dug in on the front end and continued to fight on when headed at the furlong mark by Taylor Said, who raced wide throughout. Winning Machine was tenacious to the end, but Taylor Said prevailed in a hard-fought finish.
"He was really sharp today," Gutierrez said. "He was pulling pretty hard. I didn’t want to choke the race out of him, so I let him go a little wide into the first turn. I was surprised to see so many horses going for the lead. The pace felt pretty fast, but I know this track pretty well. If this was my first time riding at Emerald Downs, I might have started panicking, but I know good horses can carry their speed on this track.
"My horse hesitated once he got the lead," the jockey added. "I think he was used to the shorter stretch at Hastings. When Winning Machine came back, my horse kept going. He’s a fighter, too. This win is very special for me. (Owner) Glen (Todd) is like my dad and Troy (Taylor) is like my grandpa. I’m so happy I could win this race for them. They’re my family.”
Matias said he expected to be on the lead and was happy with the way Winning Machine ran.
"(Taylor Said) passed us easily, but my horse came right back," Matias said. "I don’t think we ever got the lead back, but he dug in the whole way. I had to ride him pretty hard.”
Awesome Gem, ridden by David Flores, finished willingly after checking at the three-eighths pole and showing little speed early on.
“I had to do the best with what I had," Flores said. "I had nowhere to go outside, so I was just looking for a pocket to go through. I finally got through, but it was too late. The leaders were already seven lengths ahead at the top of the stretch. I’m proud of my horse. Things didn’t go his way, but he showed his spirit.”
The outcome of the race was affected by the scratch of Gladding, who came down with a fever and was withdrawn by trainer John Sadler. The Southern California-based Gladding was expected to be a major pace factor and contender.
Taylor Said has won stakes races in his most recent five starts as part of a winning streak that began with an allowance win in February at Golden Gate Fields. Taylor Said has seven wins and two seconds from 10 lifetime starts with earnings of $277,991.
He paid $7.20, $4.60, and $3.20. Winning Machine, looking to give longtime Washington trainer Frank Lucarelli his first win in the Longacres Mile, returned $8 and $4.40. The exacta was worth $54. Awesome Gem paid $3.20 to show.
Puhich also saddled fourth-place finisher St Liams Halo. Then came Bailouttheminister, Jump up and Kissme, Gallant Son, Jebrica, Hudson Landing, and Assessment.