08/14/2012 1:11PM

Emerald Downs: Field for Longacres Mile still taking shape

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Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Gladding is expected to ship to Emerald Downs for Sunday's Grade 3 Longacres Mile.

AUBURN, Wash. – The biggest week on Emerald Downs’s calendar is set to begin on a quiet note both Thursday and Friday, with compact fields – an average of 5.9 horses per race – lined up for seven-race cards each night. The momentum will build dramatically Saturday with the running of the WTBOA Lads Stakes for 2-year-olds, before hitting the meeting’s high notes Sunday, when the $65,000 Emerald Distaff serves as a warmup act for the Grade  3, $200,000 Longacres Mile.

A couple of leading Longacres Mile contenders went through their final paces early in the week. Gladding, trained by John Sadler and expected to be one of the betting favorites, worked six furlongs Sunday on the synthetic surface at Del Mar in a best-of-the-morning 1:12.40. And Monday at Emerald Downs, the speedy sprinter Bailouttheminister breezed four furlongs in 47 seconds, the second-fastest of 43 workouts at the distance.

Also working Monday at Emerald was Posse Power, the third-place finisher in the 2011 Longacres Mile but on the outside looking in when weights were assigned for this year’s 77th renewal. Posse Power, winless in two starts this year, was assigned 115 pounds and was likely to need a last-minute defection or two to make the final field of 12. A total of 16 horses received weight assignments of 116 or higher, and Posse Power was one of four runners at 115.

Meanwhile, Longacres Mile nominees Hoorayforhollywood and First Strike were entered to run in a $73,000 allowance race Wednesday at Del Mar. Bob Baffert, who trains Hoorayforhollywood, had yet to commit to either that race or the Longacres Mile as of Monday. Entries for the Longacres Mile were to be drawn at 12 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday.

Also apparently in limbo was Eldaafer, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon and most recently a distant seventh in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth in early July. He breezed four furlongs Monday at Monmouth, and, according to Emerald Downs officials, was still being considered Monday as a possible starter in the Longacres Mile.

All but assured to start Sunday are defending Mile champion Awesome Gem, who was assigned high weight of 123 pounds, Mount Rainer Handicap winner Hudson Landing, Taylor Said, Gladding, Winning Machine, Bailouttheminister, Jebrica, St Liams Halo, Gallant Son, and 2009 Longacres Mile hero Assessment. Hollywood Harbor, the fastest sprinter at Emerald Downs, was being considered for either the Longacres Mile or an allowance sprint on the Mile undercard.