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Noosa Beach takes the win picture in the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap at Emerald Downs | Horse Racing
Noosa Beach made amends for his only 2010 defeat Sunday with a one-length victory over defending champion Assessment in the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap for older horses at Emerald Downs.
Noosa Beach—the 2010 Horse of the Meeting–ran 6-½ furlongs in 1:14.27 on a fast track and paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.20. Gallyn Mitchell rode the winner at high weight of 123 lbs for trainer Doris Harwood and owner Jeff Harwood of Kent, Wash. The 5-year-old Washington-bred rallied to the lead into the lane, turned back upstart Tequila Gold past mid-stretch and then held off a late charge from Assessment for the victory.
“The only thing that worries me is that he wants to wait on horses,” said Mitchell, who has taken over the reigns on Noosa Beach this season from an injured Ricky Frazier. “I couldn’t hear any horses coming, but I heard the roar of the crowd.
“Usually, the crowd cheers for you on the lead or it means that someone is coming from behind. I tried to switch leads, but he didn’t, so I just let him be. He’s just a special horse. All I have to do is keep him out of trouble. He is probably one of the three best horses I’ve ever ridden, if not the best.”
It was the ninth Emerald Downs stakes victory for Noosa Beach, placing him just one behind Handy N Bold’s 10 stakes wins set from 1999-2003. His overall record, including a victory in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, is 12-3-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $425,722.
Assessment, ridden by Juan Gutierrez at 120 lbs., rallied strongly inside for second place and paid $5.40 and $3.80. Tequila Gold, winner of his previous five starts, held on well to finish third. Ridden by Robert Skelly at 116 lbs, Tequila Gold paid $3.40.
Peaceful Reign, Bogachiel, Saratoga Boot, Our Minesweeper, Absolutely Cool, Winning Machine and He’s All Heart completed the order of finish.
Last year, in perhaps the greatest season in track history, Noosa Beach compiled a 6-1-0 record in seven starts including five stakes wins and $225,930 in earnings. The only glitch was a neck defeat to Assessment in the Governor’s Handicap. Sunday, Noosa Beach turned the tables although Gutierrez said the outcome might have been closer with a clean trip. The official Equibase chart noted that Assessment steadied at the quarter-pole and rallied inside when clear.
“I knew there would be a lot of speed in the race, so I wanted to sit in the second pack,” Gutierrez said. “I had a lot of trouble in the turn from a horse that was backing up. I had to completely stop my momentum and then start back up again. If we had a cleaner trip, I think we might have won the race. He was closing so well.”
Bogachiel and Our Minesweeper dueled through a quarter-mile in :21.92 seconds, followed closely by Peaceful Reign, Tequila Gold and, on the far outside, Noosa Beach. Unfazed and just wanting to keep his mount in the clear, Mitchell had Noosa Beach four deep on the turn and the dark bay or brown gelding looped past Bogachiel, Peaceful Reign and Absolutely Cool, taking the lead after four furlongs in a sizzling :43.88 seconds.
Noosa Beach led by 1-½ lengths past mid-stretch, running six furlongs in 1:07.90, and held off Assessment for his 11th win in 16 starts at Emerald Downs. The other two races were at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, including a 1-½ length win in the George Royal Stakes last month.
The Governor’s Handicap was the first race on the road to the 76th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, Aug. 21. Next up is the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap at one mile on Sunday, June 19, followed by the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at one and one-sixteenth miles on Sunday, July 24.
NOTES: Juan Gutierrez rode four winners and became only the third jockey with 800 career wins at Emerald Downs. Gutierrez swept the opening three events on Outing Mail ($9.20), Advancement ($4.20) and Sir Sayonara ($3). He completed his four-bagger—first this season by an Emerald Downs jockey—aboard Cliff’s Secret ($2.60) in the $18,600 co-feature for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old mare ran the fastest six furlongs of the meet—1:08.54—and is 5-for-6 lifetime including 5-for-5 sprinting.
Gallyn Mitchell is first all-time in wins with 1,268 (including two wins Sunday) followed by Ricky Frazier with 886.
In a tight race for leading rider, Leslie Mawing leads both Gutierrez and Joe Crispin by a 23-22 score, followed by Deborah Hoonan-Trujillo with 20.
Fifth race runner-up Liberty At the Bar paid meet-highs of $41.20 for place and $24.80 for show. The 4-year-old gelding hadn’t been out since Aug. 14, 2010, and his two career victories were at Great Falls and Sun Downs.
Live racing resumes Friday with first post at 6:15 p.m.