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Awesome Gem to defend Longacres Mile | Emerald Downs
North America's richest active money-earner is headed back to Emerald Downs as trainer Craig Dollase said Awesome Gem is a go for the $200,000 Longacres Mile on Sunday, Aug. 19.
A 9-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Awesome Again, Awesome Gem has compiled an 11-15-6 record in 51 career starts with earnings of $2,851,370 for West Point Thoroughbreds.
A victory would make Awesome Gem the oldest horse to win the Longacres Mile and the first horse to win the race twice at Emerald Downs.
"We're looking forward to defending our title," Dollase said from his base at Del Mar, where Awesome Gem drilled three furlongs Sunday in :36-3/5. "He's doing well since his last race, and everyone up there (at Emerald Downs) knows Awesome Gem is a good horse."
Awesome Gem's last race was a third in the June 30 Cornhusker Handicap (Grade III) over 1 1/8 miles at Prairie Meadows. Awesome Gem relishes a slightly shorter distance and is 3-1-0 in four career starts at one mile, including last year's 1½-length triumph over Noosa Beach in 1:34.80. Awesome Gem's two wins in 2012 were both at Golden Gate Fields including the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in which he finished second but was moved to first via a disqualification of Positive Response.
Dollase said Awesome Gem would likely remain at Del Mar until four or five days before the race and ship north with Sergio Martin, the assistant trainer who accompanied Awesome Gem to Emerald Downs for last year's victory and a runner-up finish in 2009.
Full field expected for Mile
With less than one month to go, the countdown officially has begun to the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade III). And while nominations don't close officially until Sunday, Aug. 5, the list of possible starters shows tremendous promise for the Northwest's most prestigious race.
Trainer Frank Lucarelli, for example, has three prospects for the meet's premier event with Winning Machine, Gallant Son and Posse Power, and Tim McCanna said he could have both Saratoga Boot and Jersey Town in The Mile. Add in the expected Hastings' shippers* Taylor Said and St Liams Halo*along with Hudson Landing, and the contention runs deep.
Average field size for the past five Longacres Miles has been 11.8 horses (actually 12, but St Liams Halo scratched on race day in 2011) and this year is taking shape as an overflow field. Listed below are horses whose connections have expressed interest in competing in this year's Mile.
In alphabetical order: Assessment, Awesome Gem, Bailouttheminister, Commander, Gallant Son, Gladding, Hollywood Harbor, Hudson Landing, Jebrica, Jersey Town, Posse Power, Saratoga Boot, Senor Rojo, Taylor Said, Winning Machine.
• If more than 12 horses enter The Mile, high weights are preferred.
• Saturday's seventh race, a $21,000 purse for allowance/optional claimers at 6½ furlongs, marks the 2012 debut of 2009 Longacres Mile winner Assessment, and also features Mile hopefuls Jebrica, Posse Power and Saratoga Boot.
Bennett has 1-2 punch in Premio Esmeralda
Dave Bennett is renowned for his good work with 2-year-olds, and the veteran trainer should be licking his lips Sunday with two great chances to capture his second stakes win of the meet in the $50,000 Premio Esmeralda Stakes for colts and geldings.
Master's Bluff has the edge after a tenacious nose victory in the July 3 Slewdledo Stakes, and his tactical speed combined with jockey Rocco Bowen makes him a strong candidate for back-to-back stakes wins.
In contrast, the Beyer Speed Figures favor Master's Bluff's stable mate, Gilmore, who received a 50 Beyer – the field's highest number – after a 1¼-length score in a $25,000 maiden claimer on July 14. Bennett said he expects both geldings to run well, but even he can't decipher who will run best on Sunday.
"I think both are big, powerful looking horses," Bennett said. "I asked our gallop boy Dan Brock who was better, and he couldn't pull them apart either. I guess we'll have to see what happens Sunday, but I know I'm looking forward to seeing who comes out on top."
The Premio Esmeralda is Race 8 on a nine-race card. Post time is 5:39 p.m.
To celebrate Fiesta Premio Esmeralda, Emerald Downs will give away special T-shirts to the first 2,000 paid admissions Sunday.
The field for the 17th running of the Premio Esmeralda Stakes: 1, Scat Daddybaby, Juan Gutierrez, 120 pounds.; 2, Luna Tick, William Antongeorgi, 120; 3, Master's Bluff, Bowen, 120; 4, Finallygotabentley, Gallyn Mitchell, 118; 5, Cariboo Road, Debbie Hoonan, 118; 6, Mike Man's Gold, Javier Matias, 120; 7, Music of My Soul, Leslie Mawing, 118; Gilmore, Jennifer Whitaker, 120.
Week 15 honors: Jockey – Eliska Kubinova (26-6-5-2); trainer - Terry Gillihan (2-2-0-0); owner – Duane Weber and Jeff Harwood (2-2-0-0); Washington bred - River of Aces (Dean Essex DVM). ... Jockey Leonel Camacho-Flores is scheduled to resume riding Friday with a mount on Snooper Dauper in the fourth race. Camacho-Flores, fifth in the standings with 36 wins, sustained an arm injury in a riding mishap Friday, July 13. ...
Leslie Mawing begins the week with 1,987 career wins, and has a streak of 15 straight days with at least one win. Mawing, 38, trails Juan Gutierrez by a 61-53 margin in the jockeys' standings. ... Eliska Kubinova rode three winners Wednesday at Portland Meadows and is one victory shy of becoming only the third apprentice to ride 50 winners in a single season at Emerald Downs. ... Saturday is the 1st annual Food Truck Day with 12 food trucks on-site in the north park area.