Jockey Evin Roman celebrates aboard Gold Rush Dancer after their win in the Longacres Mile

Jockey Evin Roman celebrates aboard Gold Rush Dancer after their win in the Longacres Mile

Reed Palmer Photography

Gold Rush Dancer Dominant in Longacres Mile

Trainer Vann Belvoir also won the race as a jockey in 1994 aboard Want a Winner.

Gold Rush Dancer brought Vann Belvoir's career as a horseman full circle in many ways when he crossed the wire first in the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) Aug. 13 at Emerald Downs.

Twenty-three years prior, he was the one who crossed the wire first in the Northwest's premier Thoroughbred race, when he rode Want a Winner to victory by a nose when the race was at Yakima Meadows in 1994.

John Parker's homebred Gold Rush Dancer, who gave Belvoir his first win in the Longacres Mile as a trainer, did a bit better than Want a Winner, as he dominated a full field of 12 in a 4 3/4-length victory. Belvoir is the first to win the race—which first ran in 1935—as both a jockey and trainer.

"It's just gratifying to win the biggest race in the Northwest," said Belvoir, who grew up at the now closed Longacres Racetrack in Washington state as the son of longtime trainer Howard Belvoir. The elder Belvoir won the Longacres Mile with Wasserman in 2008 and Assessment in 2009. "Everybody who has trained here, rode here, or owned horses here—this is the race everybody in the Northwest wants to win. This is the Super Bowl for us."

Although the trainer relished the moment, as a former rider, he quickly shifted his focus to praise apprentice jockey Evin Roman, who earned his first graded win with aggressive tactics aboard the California-bred colt.

Gold Rush Dancer showed speed at the start from post 3, but Roman let longshot Dedicated to You take momentary command from the outside and got his mount off the rail and just off the early pacesetter.

The first quarter-mile went in :22.86, but Roman pressed the pace in the backstretch and Gold Rush Dancer put a head in front through a half-mile in :45.81. It only got worse for the rest of the field from there, as the margin extended to three lengths through six furlongs in 1:09.38 and the rest toiled behind in the stretch.

"The move that won the race was when he stepped over heels and got to the outside," Belvoir said. "People who don't understand race riding may not understand, but that's what won the race. The kid rode a beautiful race."

Gold Rush Dancer finished off the mile in 1:33.85, well ahead of Mach One Rules, who just edged Dedicated to You by a head for second. Barkley, trained by Howard Belvoir, came in fourth, and defending Longacres Mile winner Point Piper finished fifth. Two-time Longacres Mile winner Stryker Phd finished sixth.

"He's been training on heavier tracks (at Del Mar and Santa Anita Park), so his fitness is different than other horses training locally," the younger Belvoir said of Gold Rush Dancer, who earned his first graded win and also the first at the graded level for his sire, Private Gold. "The track is lightning fast. He just bounced right over it.

Vann Belvoir, who won three graded stakes as a jockey, now has two graded wins as a trainer. His first came in 2016 with Rocket Heat, who won the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3T) at Churchill Downs.

Out of the In Excess mare Dances On Water, Gold Rush Dancer now has a 6-3-3 record from 18 starts and $510,613 in earnings.