06/20/2011 7:05AM

Emerald Downs: Noosa Beach starts slow, finishes fast in Budweiser


AUBURN, Wash. – Noosa Beach overcame a slow start to win the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap on Sunday at Emerald Downs and moved closer to a possible start in the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Churchill Downs.

A Washington-bred by Harbor the Gold, Noosa Beach tied Handy N Bold’s record of 10 stakes victories at Emerald Downs. Noosa Beach is expected to try for No. 11 on July 24 in the Mount Rainier Handicap, with the Grade 3 Longacres Mile on Aug. 21 his primary summer objective.

The idea of a start in the Breeders’ Cup moved closer to reality after Noosa Beach’s victory Sunday, when owner Jeff Harwood said he would pay the $25,000 nomination fee needed to keep Noosa Beach eligible for the Breeders’ Cup by the July 1 deadline. Noosa Beach has won six consecutive stakes races and is 9 for 10 over the past two year for trainer Doris Harwood.

On Sunday, carrying 125 pounds, Noosa Beach rallied after missing the break to reach the lead at the top of the stretch. He quickly drew clear and coasted home to win by 3 1/2 lengths, running one mile on a tiring wet-fast surface in 1:38.09. He paid $3.20.

Winning Machine rallied to finish second, a nose in front of Saratoga Boot. Davos was fourth, followed by Assessment, Tequila Gold, All Saint, and Cat On Base.

Cat On Base and All Saint dueled for the lead through a 46.37 half-mile while Noosa Beach waited more than three lengths behind the leaders. Noosa Beach, Tequila Gold and Saratoga Boot all launched strong bids around the turn, but the others were no match for Noosa Beach through the final three-sixteenths.

“He broke a little slow today, but it was just one of those situations where the horse wasn’t standing perfectly in the gate,” jockey Gallyn Mitchell said. “He’s such a talented horse that he just picked up his feet and started running. … I was happy to be in the lead on the inside entering the stretch. If he’s on the inside, nobody will get by him. He’s running with the best horses on the grounds, and he’s just toying with them.”