06/16/2008 11:00PM

The Great Face needs surgery

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AUBURN, Wash. - The Aug. 17 running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs lost one candidate and gained another as a result of developments last week.

The bad news is that last year's Mile champion, The Great Face, will not be able to defend his crown after chipping a bone in his right front ankle during a workout on June 8. The Great Face, who is now 6, was preparing for a return to action after recovering from an injury to his tendon sheath last September. He worked for the fourth time last Sunday, going a half-mile in a best-of-110 time of 46 seconds flat, but he was favoring his right front a day later. After consulting medical experts, the decision was made last weekend to have the chip surgically removed.

"We were told the best option would be to have the operation, so that's what we'll do," said trainer Tom Wenzel. "We'll have it done right away so the healing process can get started. They recommend 90 days off for this surgery, but we'll give him a full six months and put him back into training after the first of the year. He should be ready to run again at the start of next year's meeting."

Though Wenzel and owner Ron Crockett were understandably disappointed to lose The Great Face's 6-year-old season, Wenzel was encouraged by what he saw from The Great Face in his training.

"He showed me he still wants to be a racehorse," said Wenzel. "He was very eager to train, and he was working beautifully. I'm sure he'll be the same next year."

Shortly after The Great Face was declared out, Nationhood secured his berth in the Mile with a 2 1/2-length victory over favored Westsideclyde in Sunday's $60,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile. Nationhood, who had won the six-furlong Seattle Handicap earlier in the meet, got the distance in 1:35.20 under a confident ride from Seth Martinez.

After Sunday's race, trainer Mike Chambers said Nationhood, a 6-year-old son of Cherokee Run, may not race again before the Mile.

"He has had three or four tough races in a row," Chambers said. "I was looking at him in the paddock, and I think he has lost a little weight. He runs well fresh, so I think I might just train him up to the Mile."

The big question before the Emerald was whether Nationhood could get the mile distance. He had won three sprint stakes, but finished seventh and second in his only two mile tries, the first of which was on turf and the second on a muddy track. Local fans might have suspected that the distance would be no problem, however, because Nationhood is out of the Danzig mare Elhasna. Elhasna is also the dam of Karis Makaw, who won the one-mile King County Handicap and the 1 1/16-mile Boeing Handicap here in 2005.

Chambers said Nationhood's relation to Karis Makaw played no role in his acquisition of Nationhood after the horse's maiden win at Hollywood Park in May 2007. He purchased Nationhood from trainer Eoin Harty in a private transaction, then sold him later to current owners Brad and Lisa Cassidy and Del and Nancy Anderson, all of Kirkland, Wash.

"Del had been a client of mine back in the 1980s, and he asked me if I would buy a horse for the Cassidys," said Chambers. "I told him I would sell them this one if he would come in on the deal, because I missed getting those monthly checks from him."

Anderson and his partners have had no cause to regret their investment in Nationhood. Since coming under Chambers's care, Nationhood has won 7 of 11 starts and the bulk of his $180,570 in earnings.

Lord Avalon may get stakes shot

If indeed Nationhood does skip both the $50,000 Governor's Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on July 6 and the $75,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on July 27, the two remaining preps for the Mile, it won't necessarily mean that Chambers will go unrepresented in those races.

Lord Avalon, who won for the third time in four tries in Saturday's one-mile allowance feature, may be ready to venture into the stakes ranks. In his first two-turn attempt, Lord Avalon, a 4-year-old son of Yonaguska, came from seventh under Martinez to prevail by a neck over stakes winner Random Memo. His time for the mile was 1:35, 0.20 of a second less than Nationhood required to win the Emerald a day later.

* Defending riding champ Ricky Frazier and former champ Kevin Radke ended the week with 48 wins apiece, which sets the stage for a hot race for the riding title through the remainder of the meeting. Both Frazier and Radke, as well as Seth Martinez, are represented by agent Boone McCanna.

* Enumclaw Girl heads a list of eight 3-year-old fillies nominated for Sunday's $50,000 Irish Day Handicap at a mile. Enumclaw Girl, a daughter of Katowice who races for Doris Konecny, won the six-furlong U. S. Bank Stakes before finishing a close second to Startjumpin Marnie last time out in the Federal Way Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.