07/11/2010 11:00PM

Assessment returns to top form

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AUBURN, Wash. - Assessment, the horse of the meeting at Emerald Downs in 2009, recorded his first victory of 2010 Sunday in the $50,000 Governor's Handicap, defeating 1-2 betting favorite Noosa Beach by a neck under jockey Gallyn Mitchell. Gallon was four lengths farther back in third, followed by Davos, Wasserman, Margo's Gift, Winning Machine, and He's All Heart.

Assessment ran 61/2 furlongs in 1:14.40 and paid $15.40 as the third choice in the wagering. The 6-year-old by Jump Start rallied from between horses on the turn, collared Noosa Beach near the eighth pole and prevailed in a long drive, handing Noosa Beach his first defeat in four starts at the 2010 Emerald Downs meeting. Assessment, who recorded 4 wins and 3 seconds in 7 starts at Emerald last year, was making his third start of 2010. The Howard Belvoir-trained runner finished fifth behind Noosa Beach in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap May 16, and was a distant sixth behind that rival in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap on a sloppy track June 20.

The winner's share of $27,500 pushed Assessment's career earnings to $384,730 for owners Lou and Diane Tice of Seattle.

Wasserman, owned and trained by Belvoir, earned $1,250 for finishing fifth and became the all-time leader in money earned at Washington racetracks with $504,312 -- $1,027 more than Captain Condo. Belvoir said Wasserman is likely to join Assessment in the 1 1/8-mile Mount Rainier Handicap on Aug. 1, the final stakes stepping-stone to the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22. Wasserman won the Mile in 2008, and Assessment captured the Northwest's richest race in 2009.

"I feel so good that Assessment still has the heart and courage that he had last year," Mitchell said. "This division is so competitive. It's going to be the little things that win races. Everyone's going to need a little racing luck. Now that he's back on his game, we are looking for a repeat in the Longacres Mile. He's coming around just in time."