07/18/2012 4:20PM

Emerald Downs: Hudson Landing to get prep on dirt in Mt. Rainier

Victor Fierros/Vassar Photography
Hudson Landing will get a tryout for the Longacres Mile in the Mt. Rainier Stakes.

AUBURN, Wash. – Hudson Landing, winner of the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile in April, is among the horses being pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 19 at Emerald Downs.

Trainer Blaine Wright said he will start Hudson Landing on Sunday in the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald, an opportunity to see if the horse’s recent sharp form can translate to a dirt surface. Hudson Landing has raced on grass and synthetic surfaces for most of his career, and Sunday’s start would be his first on dirt since a runner-up effort in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in 2010.

Wright claimed Hudson Landing for owner Jared Chappell in February, paying $50,000 for the 5-year-old gelded son of Maria’s Mon, and Hudson Landing proceeded to win his next three starts, capped by a rousing victory over Grade 1 winner Jeranimo in the San Francisco Mile on the Golden Gate turf course. Wright pushed Hudson Landing into deeper waters in his most recent start, the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park, where Hudson Landing weakened to finish seventh, more than six lengths behind Jeranimo, after racing in tight quarters.

“We were sitting pretty good, but he got stopped twice,” Wright said Wednesday from Golden Gate. “We were concerned because he’d never run light-outs at Hollywood. But he pulled up well, came back well, worked a nice breeze at Golden Gate on Saturday, and he was climbing the walls this morning.”

Hudson Landing shipped to Emerald Downs on Tuesday. Frank Alvarado will come in from Northern California to ride him in the nine-furlong Mt. Rainier. Winning Machine, a two-time stakes winner at the meeting, is the likely favorite, unless bettors prefer Hudson Landing.

“The horse has run at eight different racetracks, and he’s never really disgraced himself, other than the first start of his life,” Wright said. “We felt like you want to go where your horse is going to be 8-5. When the bettors tell you you’re 5-1 or less, you’re in the right spot. So let’s see how he likes it. We ultimately figured if we come to Emerald now and try him on the dirt, and if he does well, we can point him to the Mile. And if not, we can freshen him up, go back to Golden Gate, and put him back on the turf.”

“I think if our horse can run his race, the way he’s been running, he’ll probably be hard to deny,” Wright said. “But you can’t take anything away from Winning Machine. He’s the top dog right now.”