07/23/2009 11:00PM

Belvoir sends two in Longacres Mile prep


AUBURN, Wash. - Remember the guy in high school who never missed a party? Assessment and Wasserman are the equine equivalents. If there's a stakes race for older horses at Emerald Downs, they'll be there.

Howard Belvoir, who trains both, figures there's no point in sitting out when there's money on the table, and there's $50,000 at stake Sunday in the 1 1/8-mile Mount Rainier Handicap.

The Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile is still three weeks away, and both of his horses will be there too, Belvoir said, provided they come out of Sunday's race in good order. Wasserman, a 7-year-old owned and bred by Belvoir, won the Mile last summer en route to horse of the meeting honors. Assessment, a 5-year-old who races for Lou Tice of Seattle, finished fourth after a troubled trip.

Wasserman is winless in five starts in 2009, finishing behind his stablemate each time. Assessment has two wins at the meeting, including a neck victory over Wasserman in the one-mile Budweiser Emerald Handicap last month. Wasserman is a deep closer; Assessment has more speed and versatility.

"Assessment could go to the front if I wanted him to; he's sharp right now," Belvoir said. "He should be able to lay where he wants to, and he's got a mile and an eighth to figure out how to get out of trouble."

Wasserman has closed determinedly in each of his starts, finishing third, second and third in his past three stakes appearances. The Emerald racing surface has been kind to speed for most of the summer.

"He's been closing to get a part, but the bias has been working against him," Belvoir said. "The track was a little different last week, though. It was a pretty fair surface and some off-the-pace horses were winning. That would help me, but either way, I need some speed in there."

The presence of Robbos Courage, who has won his past two starts in front-running fashion, and Elusive Schemes, an improving 4-year-old trained by Belvoir's son Vann, should help ensure a fast pace.

Gallon, who won the nine-furlong Emerald Derby via disqualification last September, also stands to benefit if they go too fast early. He finished a length behind Assessment in the Budweiser Emerald in his second start following a seven-month layoff.

Texas Wildcatter, third in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park last August, is scheduled to make his Emerald debut in the Mount Rainier. Trained by Troy Taylor, the Monarchos colt finished second in the nine-furlong Lieutenant Governor's Handicap at Hastings in his most recent outing.