08/16/2011 3:13PM

Emerald Downs: Winning Machine poses threat in Longacres Mile


AUBURN, Wash. – While Noosa Beach commands most of the attention leading into Sunday’s Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, another local horse, Winning Machine, has been going about his business, more or less under the radar. Some talented runners from California and Canada are shipping in to chase a share of the $200,000 purse, but Jeff Harwood, who owns Noosa Beach, says Winning Machine is the horse he fears more than any other.

LONGACRES MILE AT EMERALD DOWNS: Video Analysis, News, PPs & Live Streaming Video of the entire card

Harwood is quite familiar with Winning Machine. His wife, Doris Harwood, trained the horse until midway through the 2010 Emerald meeting, when Winning Machine was transferred to trainer Frank Lucarelli. By then Winning Machine had gone off form, but after a restful winter, the 5-year-old is rounding into peak form. He closed strongly to finish second behind Noosa Beach in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap on June 17, and followed up with a pacesetting second in the 1 1/6-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap on July 24. Winning Machine giving way grudgingly to Noosa Beach, losing by just a half-length, and posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 92, equaling his career best.

“He ran great,” Lucarelli said this week. “I wished Assessment didn’t come up and hook into him early, at the five-eighths. But Noosa Beach is a tough horse, and he might have got by us anyway. I was very pleased with the effort. He ran his guts out right to the wire.”

Winning Machine breezed six furlongs in 1:12 on Monday morning, his last major tune-up for the Mile. Regular rider Leslie Mawing was aboard, and Lucarelli said his horse “couldn’t be doing any better.” He will carry 117 pounds in the Mile, eight fewer than Noosa Beach, who will shoulder 125 on the heels of seven consecutive stakes victories. The post position draw was scheduled for Wednesday.

“When you’ve got a horse like Noosa Beach – a big, freaking strong horse who probably outweighs Winning Machine by 300 or 400 pounds – the weight shouldn’t be a big deal,” Lucarelli said. “Of course, you always want to get a little bit if you’re chasing a good horse like we’ve been chasing Noosa, but adding a few to him and taking a few from my horse might not make a big difference.

“I’m guessing there will be a fair amount of speed in the race, and for Winning Machine, that’s good. He’s better stalking a bit than on the lead. It looks like it could set up pretty good for him.”


LONGACRES MILE AT EMERALD DOWNS: Live streaming video of the entire card, plus video Analysis, news & PPs