08/24/2011 4:11PM

Emerald Downs: Posse Power returns quick dividends in Longacres Mile

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AUBURN, Wash. -- The handicap division at Emerald Downs, dominated by Noosa Beach for the past two years, gained a formidable new member last Sunday when Posse Power finished third in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile for trainer Frank Lucarelli. But with the final open stakes race for older horses in the books, Posse Power will have to take his show on the road before he returns to Emerald next spring.

Posse Power, an improving 4-year-old by Posse, from a Pleasant Colony mare, was reunited with Lucarelli last month after a one-race absence caused when the previous owner decided another trainer would be a better fit. David Taylor, another Lucarelli client, claimed Posse Power for $50,000 at Santa Rosa on July 27, and recouped $30,000 of the purchase price Sunday. He could take care of the rest in his next start, perhaps in the Grade 3, $100,000 BC Premiers at Hastings on Oct. 2.

Lucarelli sensed that Posse Power would run a big race in the Mile. He recruited Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze for the mount, and Posse Power drew the No. 1 post position, a favorable starting point with race favorites Awesome Gem and Noosa Beach on the far outside.

“I thought he had a good chance,” Lucarelli said. “The horse had been working so easily, training that good, and he’s a good horse. I love the horse; I’ve had him his whole life except the one race. Maybe I’m higher on him than I should be, but I think he’s capable of running with these and beating them.”

Posse Power and Baze were in the thick of contention from the start but couldn’t sustain a rallying move on the second turn. Awesome Gem and Noosa Beach were just a little bit better – Awesome Gem was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 for his 1-1/2-length victory. Noosa Beach got a 95, and Posse Power equaled his previous career best with a 91.

“He ran a good race; Russell was really happy with it,” Lucarelli said. “He thought it was a little slow down there, and he thought he could have got closer if he could have got him off the rail a little bit. Inside the sixteenth, he darted him out and the horse re-rallied.”

Now Lucarelli is scouting around for a suitable race. Posse Power, bred in Kentucky, isn’t eligible for the season-ending Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at Emerald.

“He’s run going short, long, synthetic, dirt, he ran really good on turf,” Lucarelli said of Posse Power. “He beat Awesome Gem the first time he ever ran on the grass, so there’s not a track he won’t run on. That’s just a thought, to see what’s up at Hastings.”