08/24/2012 1:03PM

Emerald Downs: Longacres Mile also-rans move on to next challenge

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Victor Fierros/Vassar Photography
After a ninth-place finish in the Longacres Mile, Hudson Landing will get a rest before being pointed toward the All-American Handicap in November.

AUBURN, Wash. – While a start in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile remains a possibility for Longacres Mile hero Taylor Said, the other nine participants in the Grade 3 race last Sunday at Emerald Downs will tackle less-ambitious projects when they return to competition this year or next.

Blaine Wright said Hudson Landing, ninth in the Longacres Mile as the 9-2 third favorite, will return to Northern California, with the Grade 3 All American Handicap on Nov. 25 in the trainer’s immediate plans. Hudson Landing has four victories in 2012 – two on the synthetic Tapeta at Golden Gate, one on dirt at Emerald Downs, and the biggest one, the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile, on the Golden Gate grass course.

“We’ll walk him for a week in Seattle, and then walk him for a couple of weeks here,” Wright said Thursday from the Bay Area. “They’ve got the All American on the main track, and some turf racing through the end of the year. I don’t think he’s really over-raced – he’s never had a huge layoff – so we thought we’d keep him in the barn and try to get a prep before the All American. And if he’s not doing well, we’ll turn him out and give him a rest.”

Hudson Landing had a difficult trip in the Longacres Mile, attending a moderate pace from between horses before getting closed off near the three-eighths pole to lose his best chance. He dropped back from there and was wrapped up by jockey Frank Alvarado through the final furlong. Taylor Said, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, and Winning Machine spurted away from the pack on the turn and Taylor Said prevailed by a head, running the mile in 1:33.79, for his sixth consecutive victory.

“I told Frank that I hoped Taylor Said would go with Winning Machine.” Wright said. “We thought Assessment might send, too. All of those things kind of happened, but they didn’t send hard – we thought there would be more pace. Then all of the sudden, the Mile is a 45-and-change, 1:09-and-change race, and we’re a half-length off of it, and I’m like ‘Let’s roll with it.’ But Frank said Mario came down on him, and Winning Machine switched leads and came up a little bit, and Frank had to snatch him up. It was all over from there.”

Assessment, the Longacres Mile winner in 2009, finished last as a 52-1 outsider while making just his second start of the year. Assessment broke sharply but was steadied on the first turn, moved into tight quarters near the half-mile marker, and then retreated steadily after checking again behind Hudson Landing.

“He got into trouble like other [horses] did, and he wasn’t quite ready anyway. I knew that,” trainer Howard Belvoir said. “We were taking a shot. Now, I don’t know – there’s not much else here. He may go to Canada, though we’re still behind the eight-ball, so it may be California. Ideally, I’d like to get another race here.”

If he heads north, Belvoir said Assessment is likely to start in the Grade 3, 1 3/8-mile B.C. Premiers at Hastings on Oct. 8. It’s the richest race remaining in the Northwest this year, and Assessment could be joined in the lineup by Winning Machine and fellow Longacres Mile starters St Liams Halo and Jump Up and Kissme. St Liams Halo is a definite for the B.C. Premiers, owner Glen Todd said, and Jump Up and Kissme is a logical candidate after finishing a surprisingly strong sixth in the Longacres Mile as the longest price on the board.

The Longacres Mile favorite, Awesome Gem, gave a valiant effort to finish third after being shuffled back to last on the turn and then hitting a roadblock at the top of the stretch. The defending Mile champion, he had to settle for a check for $30,000 that increased his career earnings to $2,881,370. While a member of his well-populated West Point Thoroughbreds ownership group suggested Awesome Gem might be down to his final one or two races, trainer Craig Dollase said retirement talk was premature.

“The horse is obviously in good shape,” Dollase said. “He’ll tell us when he doesn’t want to do it anymore. We’ll pick our spots. He likes his job, this horse. He thrives on being a racehorse. We’ll bring him back to Del Mar, I’ll have someone get on his back, and then we’ll map a plan for the rest of the year.”

Jebrica, the only horse bred in Washington in the Longacres Mile field, will remain at Emerald Downs and likely run next in the $40,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic on Sept. 9. Jebrica finished eighth, one spot behind Gallant Son, whom trainer Frank Lucarelli said would be turned out for a couple of months before resuming training at Santa Anita.

Bailouttheminister, fifth in the Longacres Mile, also is headed for a brief rest in California, trainer Keith Nations said. Bailouttheminister and jockey Russell Baze got eliminated in the chain-reaction incident nearing the far turn but finished gamely to miss by six lengths.

“This is going to be a good horse next year,” Nations said. “We’re going to turn him out for the next 90 days, but we’re really excited. He’s a Cal-bred, and we’re based down there. He’s already showed he’s one of the best sprinters in Northern California, if not the entire state.”