07/08/2011 3:30PM

Emerald: Noosa Beach has eyes set on Breeders' Cup

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AUBURN, Wash. − Noosa Beach took the track Thursday morning for a four-furlong maintenance work, the latest step in an unfolding saga that could land the king of Emerald Downs on North American racing’s biggest stage – the Breeders’ Cup in November.

Victorious in 9 of his last 10 starts, all stakes, Noosa Beach was timed in 49.20 seconds under regular rider Gallyn Mitchell. Trainer Doris Harwood said the workout went mostly according to script, though Noosa Beach had to pull up and then restart to avoid a loose horse in the stretch.

“We had to turn him around and backtrack, but when we got him turned around again, he did well,” Harwood said. “It was a just a nice, relaxed half-mile. He’s fine; 49 and change is fine with me. Next week, he’ll go to five-eighths, and we’ll let him go a little faster. He’s already fit.”

Harwood, who owns Noosa Beach with her husband, Jeff, said Noosa Beach probably would start next in the $50,000 Mount Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs on July 24. Barring a setback, he then would attempt to defend his title in the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 21. After that, Harwood said, preparations would begin in earnest for a possible start in the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

No horse bred in Washington has ever won a Breeders’ Cup race, and only seven statebreds have captured a Grade 1. But after Longacres Mile runner-up Jersey Town won the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in New York last summer, interested parties began to wonder if perhaps Noosa Beach is more than just a big fish in a small pond.

Noosa Beach has recorded Beyer Speed Figures of 90 or higher in each of his last 10 starts. Dakota Phone received a 104 Beyer for his victory in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill. Furthest Land got a 105 for his victory at Santa Anita in 2009.

◗ With an open date on the stakes calendar, Emerald will present a $17,500 claimer for fillies and mares as the feature race Sunday. The 1 1/8-mile race attracted six entries. Jenjor, a close third in a first-level allowance in her last start, could start favored, with Roarified, an easy winner in her first route attempt, and Shameonya also likely to attract support.