07/26/2007 11:00PM

Double dose of Mile preps


AUBURN, Wash. - Seventeen handicap runners will audition for the Grade 3, $400,000 Longacres Mile in two different stakes on Sunday's Mile Preview Day card at Emerald Downs.

The $45,000 Governor's Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs has drawn a field of seven, including last year's Mile winner, Flamethrowintexan. The defending Mile champ will be trying to get back on track after one troubled race, an eighth-place finish in the 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap on May 28, and a lingering illness that forced him to miss two weeks of training. Flamethrowintexan, a 6-year-old from the barn of trainer Jim Penney, has logged four fast workouts in July, including a six furlong move in 1:09.20 on Tuesday. Ricky Frazier, who booted Flamethrowintexan to his Mile win last season, will ride at 121 pounds.

Flamethrowintexan's most formidable opponent could be Diligent Prospect, a Charles Essex-trained 5-year-old with a record of 6 wins from 14 starts. Diligent Prospect won sprint stakes at Turf Paradise and Sunland Park last season, but he has not started since injuring a hoof in the opening day allowance feature at this track on April 20. He is another who has been training forwardly, and he has a history of running well fresh.

The $70,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/8 miles has drawn 10 hopefuls and figures to be a wide-open betting affair. Though it is difficult to determine who is the one to beat, it is all but certain that The Great Face will be the one to catch. The Great Face, a 5-year-old son of Cahill Road who is trained by Tom Wenzel, has posted rapid front-running wins at 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 furlongs at the meeting, but his stamina will be tested by the nine-furlong distance. Juan Gutierrez, who will ride at 119 pounds, has the task of rationing The Great Face's speed.

The Great Face will race coupled with Don'twritemeoff as a Ron Crockett-owned entry. Don'twritemeoff, who is trained by Pat Mullens, has finishing ability to complement his entrymate's speed. He came from far back to finish second behind Flamethrowintexan in last year's Mt. Rainier, and he is coming off a closing fourth to Westsideclyde in the June 17 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile.

Another late threat in the Mt. Rainier is Mr. Makah, who won a pair of route stakes here in 2005. He raced only once last year, but is coming into Sunday's test off a pair of useful preps and could be ready to regain his best form.