Updated on 06/22/2011 4:42PM

Emerald Downs: Harwoods consider $25,000 Breeders' Cup gamble on Noosa Beach

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Noosa Beach is being considered for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

AUBURN, Wash. – The prospect of Noosa Beach running in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile inched closer to reality this week when owner Jeff Harwood said he was “99 percent sure” he would meet the June 30 deadline to pay a $25,000 Open Enrollment nomination fee that would make Noosa Beach eligible to compete at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in November.

Trainer Doris Harwood said she and her husband were still gathering information from Breeders’ Cup racing manager Josh Christian and had yet to commit to a Breeders’ Cup campaign. If the Dirt Mile is oversubscribed, Harwood said, Noosa Beach would have to pass muster with a selection committee because he is unlikely to qualify under a Cup points system tied to graded stakes placings.

“Just because we pay the $25,000 doesn’t mean we get in,” Doris Harwood said Tuesday. “I spoke with Josh, and he’d love to see us nominate. We’d have to be voted in by committee so he’s doing some investigating for me, checking with people in the know to see if people think the horse would make it in. . . . This isn’t something we have to do, but I’d like to let the horse have an opportunity. I think he can compete, and it would be cool to give him that opportunity.”

Noosa Beach has won four consecutive one-mile stakes races at Emerald Downs and 9 of 10 starts overall since the beginning of the 2010 meeting. He rolled to a 3 1/2-length victory in the Budweiser Handicap last Sunday, his sixth consecutive victory.

If the Harwoods pay the nomination fee, Noosa Beach would be eligible to run in any Breeders’ Cup event for the rest of his career. Noosa Beach could guarantee himself a starting berth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race. If he were to do so, the Harwoods would get a $10,000 breeders award from the Breeders’ Cup, a waiver of all entry and pre-entry fees for the championships at Churchill Downs, and a $10,000 travel allowance.

In one scenario, Noosa Beach could start in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald on Aug. 21 and then go east for the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. The Kelso is the final one-mile Challenge Series race on dirt before the Breeders’ Cup. A victory by Noosa Beach would yield an instant payday for the Harwoods. It would also eliminate most of their out-of-pocket Breeders’ Cup expenses.

Or, Doris Harwood said, Noosa Beach could follow the Mile with a start in the $100,000 BC Premiers Stakes at Hastings on Oct. 2.

“There are a lot of ifs,” she said. “Paying the $25,000 is the easy part. Will he get in, that’s the question. If we do spend the 25, there’s only one way to make our money back, and that’s to go to the big show. For us, that’s a huge gamble.”