06/23/2009 12:00AM

Assessment holds off Wasserman at Emerald

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AUBURN, Wash. - After pressing the pace for five furlongs, Assessment surged to the lead on the second turn and held off fast-closing stablemate Wasserman for a neck victory Sunday in the $50,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap for older horses at Emerald Downs.

Recording his first career stakes victory, Assessment ran one mile in 1:36.20 and paid $9.20 as the second favorite in the field of eight. Kruger Park, the 5-2 favorite after victories in the Seattle and FSN handicaps, faded to finish fifth after setting a contested pace. Gallon, Emerald Downs's champion 3-year-old in 2008, rallied to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Wasserman, while Southern California shippers Dixie Meister (sixth) and Z Humor (eighth) failed to make an impression.

Assessment won for the second time in four starts at the current meeting and earned $27,500 for owners Lou and Diane Tice of Seattle. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred trained by Howard Belvoir, Assessment has won 5 of 22 career starts with earnings of $153,480.

Wasserman, owned and trained by Belvoir, rallied boldly to finish second, inching closer to a winning effort with the Grade 3, $300,000 Mile just seven weeks away. Wasserman won the Mile in 2008 but is winless in four starts in 2009. Belvoir said Wasserman and Assessment would run next in the 6 1/2-furlong, $50,000 Governor's Handicap on July 5.