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Returning champion Background will lead a full field of 12 older horses that will battle in the 87th running of the $150,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Sunday, August 14.
Background drew the No. 4 post-position and was made a 2 to 1 morning line favorite in his bid to become the fifth two-time Mile winner, and just the second at Emerald Downs.
Trained by Mike Puhich for Bob and Molly Rondeau of Normandy Park, the 5-year-old Florida-bred is 6-3-4 in 20 career starts with earnings of $430,488 including a 4-1-1 record in six starts at a mile.
Race 8 at Emerald Downs on Sunday, August 14 - Post 9:06 PM
|1||Slew's Tiz Whiz||8-1||Jose Zunino
|2||Top Executive||6-1||Evin Roman
|3||Majestic Eagle||4-1||Declan Cannon
|6||Huge Bigly||8-1||Heribert Martinez
|8||Hard to Deny||30-1||Jake Samuels
|9||Torpedo Away||20-1||Alex Cruz
|10||Five Star General||12-1||Leslie Mawing
|11||Spittin Image||15-1||Juan Gutierrez
|12||Papa's Golden Boy||10-1||Kevin Radke
"He's had a bit of a gap between races, and he runs really well fresh," Puhich said of Background. "Unfortunately, Rocco Bowen won't be here to ride him, but Rocco breezed him last week and was really pleased with the work.
"If (Background's) as good on Sunday as he is this morning, he's going to be a tough customer."
A three-time Emerald Downs' riding champion, Bowen guided Background to an emotional come from behind victory in the 2021 Mile but was injured Monday at Presque Isle Downs and underwent surgery Wednesday for a broken clavicle and is sidelined indefinitely.
Geovanni Franco, who rode Background to victories at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs this spring, rides Background along with probable favorite Princess of Cairo in the $75,000 Emerald Distaff and Big Java in the $75,000 Washington Oaks.
Majestic Eagle, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, is 4 to 1 second choice on the morning line. A 7-year-old Medaglia d'Oro gelding, Majestic Eagle is an accomplished turf horse but unproven on dirt. Owned by Seattle locals Ray Morton and John Lindley, Majestic Eagle ships north after firing two bullet drills on Del Mar's main track.
Trainer Blaine Wright has been in the thick of the Longacres Mile the last four years, compiling a win and three seconds since 2018, and saddles Top Executive, Huge Bigly, and Torpedo Away in this year's race.
The reigning Emerald Downs' Horse of the Meeting, John and Janene Maryanski and Riverbend Stable's Top Executive is 6-1-0 in 11 career starts including a sparkling 5-1-0 from eight starts at Emerald Downs with four stakes wins. A 4-year-old Street Boss gelding, Top Executive is one for one routing on dirt, capturing the 2021 Muckleshoot Derby at a mile and one-sixteenth.
Todd and Shawn Hansen's Huge Bigly is one of six Washington-breds in this year's Mile (Huge Bigly, Papa's Golden Boy, Slew's Tiz Whiz, Spittin Image, Torpedo, Away Unmachable). A 5-year-old by Midshipman out of the Emerald Downs' stakes winning mare Gadget Queen, Hug Bigly earned over $140,000 in 2021 and showed versatility in winning on synthetic at Golden Gate, turf at Colonial Downs, and dirt at Churchill Downs.
Slew's Tiz Whiz enters the Mile in peak form for trainer Tom Wenzel. The 4-year-old Slew's Tiznow gelding has won consecutive sprints including a come from behind score in the Governor's Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs. He won a one-mile allowance last year at age 3.
Lusk Racing's Papa's Golden Boy, the dominant sprinter at Emerald Downs the last two years, drew the No. 12 post-position and figures to be flying early under jockey Kevin Radke. The 6-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding held on well last year and was beaten just 2 ¼ lengths while finishing fourth to Background.
Elttaes Stable's Five Star General has figured prominently the last two years, finishing second to Anothertwistafate in 2020 and third to background in 2021. His jockey, Leslie Mawing, and trainer, Doris Harwood, have both previously won the Mile.
Spittin Image hails from the barn of the meet's leading owner, John Parker, and comes off a third in the Governor's Stakes. Unamachable, a stakes winner here at ages 2 and 3, is two for two this year with both wins in Arizona.
Torpedo Away is winless in two tries around two turns, but the 6-year-old Jake La Gold gelding ran the meet's fastest 6 ½ furlongs, 1:14.26, two weeks ago. Hard to Deny finished eighth in the 2021 Mile and is 3-1-1 in six starts at a flat mile. Kingmeister, a recent $50,000 claim at Churchill Downs, gives 94-year-old trainer Bob Meeking his first Mile starter since 1979.
Entries also were drawn Wednesday for the $75,000 Emerald Distaff, $75,000 Muckleshoot Derby, and $75,000 Washington Oaks. A special $0.50 Pick 4 will be offered on the four Championship Sunday stakes with ideal racing conditions-78 degrees and clear-forecast.
Bob Fraser, longtime Emerald Downs' Vice President of Operations, is Honorary Steward for the 87th Longacres Mile.
AUGUST 8 - Led by title defender Background, twenty-one older horses are nominated to the $150,000 Longacres Mile, to be run Sunday, August 14, at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington.
The 87th renewal of the region's most famous race headlines a Championship Sunday program co-featuring the $75,000 Emerald Distaff for older fillies and mares, $75,000 Muckleshoot Derby for 3-year-olds, and $75,000 Washington Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
Owned by Bob and Molly Rondeau, trained by Mike Puhich, and ridden by Rocco Bowen, Background attempts to join Amble In, Simply Majestic, Trooper Seven, and Stryker Phd as two-time winner of the Longacres Mile. Since prevailing by a head in the 2021 Mile, the 5-year-old Florida-bred has won $100,000 allowance races in Arkansas and Kentucky and has a sparking 4-1-1 record in six career starts at one mile.
Four of the top five finishers in the 2021 Mile are nominated to this year's race: Background, Five Star General (3rd in 2021), Papa's Golden Boy (4th), and Unmachable (5th).
Owned by Ken Alhadeff and conditioned by Washington Hall of Fame trainer Doris Harwood, Five Star General could complete a Longacres Mile trifecta. The 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor finished runner-up to Anothertwistafate in 2020 and third to Background in 2021. Winless in three starts this season, Five Star General ran well to finish third to Papa's Golden Boy in the Budweiser Stakes and fourth to Slew's Tiz Whiz in the Governor's Stakes and boasts a 2-1-1 record from five starts in the Mile.
Papa's Golden Boy and Slew's Tiz Whiz have starred locally this season, the former using his blazing speed to dominate the Budweiser Stakes in a meet-best 1:07.76, and the latter collaring Papa's Golden Boy for a $20.40 upset in the Governor's Stakes in 1:14.73. Papa's Golden Boy has a 3-1-0 mark in Emerald Downs sprint stakes the last two years for Lusk Racing and Vince Gibson and ran a solid fourth in the 2021 Mile.
Six Washington-breds are nominated including stakes winners Papa's Golden Boy, Slew's Tiz Whiz and Unmachable. Each bids to become the first WA-bred since Stryker Phd in 2015 to win the Mile.
Trainer Blaine Wright has been a central figure in recent Miles, compiling a win and three seconds in the last four years. Wright, currently the meet's leading stakes trainer, nominated Top Executive, Huge Bigly, and Torpedo Away to this year's Mile.
Owned by John and Janene Maryanski and Riverbend Stable, Top Executive was Emerald Downs Horse of the Meeting as a 3-year-old in 2021 and is 1-1-0 in two starts this season, including a second to Papa's Golden Boy in the Budweiser Stakes. Unraced since February, Todd and Shawn Hansen's 5-year-old Huge Bigly amassed $140,396 in earnings last year topped by a $134,000 allowance score at 1 3/16 miles at Churchill Downs. Torpedo Away, owned by Wright, Seamist Racing, and Dallas Becker, ran the meet's fastest 6 ½, 1:14.26, while defeating a razor-sharp Nine One One in a $40,000 optional claimer two weeks ago.
Majestic Eagle is a wild card in the 2022 Mile. From the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale and owned by Seattleites John Lindley and Ray Morton, the son of Medaglia d'Oro is unproven on dirt but a graded winner on turf and has kept company with the finest grass horses on the West Coast. The 7-year-old gelding ships north following two straight bullet works on dirt at Del Mar.
Trainer Candi Cryderman and owner John Parker nominated four horses to the Mile including Spittin Image, a 5-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding coming off a third in the Governor's Stakes. Parker is far and away the meet's leading owner meet with 16 wins.
Princess of Cairo is nominated to both the Longacres Mile and Emerald Distaff. A 5-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince, she is unbeaten at Emerald Downs with runaway victories in the 2020 Washington Oaks and 2021 Emerald Distaff.
Entries for the Longacres Mile, Emerald Distaff, Muckleshoot Derby, and Washington Oaks will be drawn Wednesday morning. A special $0.50 Championship Sunday Pick Four will be offered on the four stakes races.
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