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Gutierrez rides Taylor Said to Mile victory | Emerald Downs
Taylor Said and jockey Mario Gutierrez held off Winning Machine and Javier Matias in a furious finish Sunday to capture the 77th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade 3) by a head before a packed house at Emerald Downs.
Perfectly ridden from the No. 9 post-position, Taylor Said ran one mile in 1:33.77 and paid $7.20, $4.60 and $3.20. Michael Puhich is the trainer for owner Glen Todd of Surrey, British Columbia.
A $9,000 yearling purchase, Taylor Said has won six straight and is 7-2-0 in 10 career starts with earnings of $277,971. Sunday's victory was worth $110,000, and considerably more in prestige for Todd, who led a caravan of some 16 buses down from Canada for The Mile.
"This is the biggest race in the Pacific Northwest," Todd said. "I've run thousands of horses but this is my first Mile. It's an unbelievable feeling."
A 4-year-old gelding by Stephanotis, Taylor Said is the first horse in 42 years to win The Mile after making his previous start at Hastings Racecourse/Exhibition Park, and he's the fifth B.C.-bred winner all-time.
Winning Machine, ridden by Matias at 119 pounds, held gamely after leading to the head of the stretch, and was coming back at Taylor Said at the finish. Winning Machine paid $8 and $4.40.
Defending Longacres Mile champion Awesome Gem, ridden by David Flores at 123 pounds, finished third as the 2-to-1 betting favorite, 1½ lengths back of Winning Machine, and paid $3.20 for show. Thoroughbred racing's leading active earner with $2,881,370, Awesome Gem encountered traffic problems into the last turn, but finished with a strong rally and now has finished first, second and third in three Longacres Mile appearances.
St Liams Halo, also owned by Todd, finished fourth, and was followed by Bailouttheminister, Jump Up and Kissme, Gallant Son, Jebrica, Hudson Landing and Assessment.
Great season under the sun
The victory continues storybook years for both Taylor Said and Gutierrez.
Taylor Said has dominated the older-horse division in Vancouver, winning four straight stakes for trainer Troy Taylor, and carried a record 128 pounds while winning the B.C. Cup Classic 13 days ago.
Gutierrez soared to national prominence this spring with picture-perfect rides to win the Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby and Preakness Stakes aboard I'll Have Another.
Taylor Said needed to call on all his reserves Sunday as Winning Machine refused to surrender after being passed into the stretch.
"He was really sharp today," Gutierrez said of Taylor 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. 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. 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 has a had a dream season of his own at Emerald Downs, winning a combined six stakes on Mike Man's Gold, Champagandcaviar and Winning Machine. And after California speedster Gladding scratched, Winning Machine and Matias suddenly became the speed of the race.
"I thought someone would go early," Matias said. "I had the inside post, so it made sense for me to take the lead. He ran so big, I'm so happy with how he ran. (Taylor Said) passed us easily, but my horse came right back. I don't think we ever got the lead back, but he dug in the whole way. I had to ride him pretty hard."
Flores, bidding for his third Mike victory, said Awesome Gem was bogged down in traffic much of the race. A victory would have made the 9-year-old gelding the oldest Mile winner.
"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."
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Awesome Gem is 11-15-7 in 52 career starts and is the richest horse ever to race in Washington.
Gold Surge ($3.60) won the fourth race – the Russell Baze State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame Purse. Washington Horse Racing Commission Chairman Paul George, who was on hand when Baze won his first race in 1974 at Yakima Meadows, presented Baze with plaque in the winner's circle. Baze, 54, is now enshrined in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, Washington Racing Hall of Fame, and State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame. He also goes into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame later this month. ...
Baze rode two winners on the 10-race card – No.'s 11,677 and 11,678 in his brilliant 38-year career – but finished fifth aboard Bailouttheminister in The Mile. Baze scored swift triumphs on Malibu Rum ($3.20) in the fifth, six furlongs in 1:07.90; and Couldabenthewhisky ($17.80) in the $30,000 Longacres Mile Consolation, 6½ furlongs in 1:13.75. ...
Congrats to KOMO-TV news anchor Dan Lewis as his sharp 4-year-old gelding Kooky Saluki ($4.40) scored his third win of the meet in a $32,000 claiming race. ...
Juan Gutierrez rode three winners Sunday and has 10 wins in the last three racing days. With 19 of 24 weeks complete, Gutierrez leads Leslie Mawing 88-75 in the jockeys standings. ... Jim Penney led the trainers with three wins, including Class Included in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff. ... Live racing resumes Thursday with first post 6:15 p.m.