08/11/2017 11:56AM

Improving Mach One Rules seeks first Longacres win for Lucarelli

Reed & Erin Palmer Photography/Emerald Downs
Mach One Rules wins the Mt. Rainier Stakes at Emerald Downs on July 16.

Mach One Rules will try to give trainer Frank Lucarelli his first win in the 82nd running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Miles at Emerald Downs on Sunday.

The race will anchor a cross-country pick four that begins at Saratoga with the Spa’s last two races and will include the richest race at Emerald for fillies and mares, the $65,000 Emerald Distaff.

The Longacres Mile, the premier race in the Pacific Northwest, will also be the final leg of the all-stakes pick four at Emerald that starts with the $25,000 Pete Peterson Overnight in Race 5.

Post time for the one-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, which drew 12, is 5:51 p.m. Pacific.

Mach One Rules, the starting highweight at 123 pounds, will break from post 9 with Isaias Enriquez aboard. The 4-year-old son of Harbor the Gold has improved dramatically in his last two starts, winning the $50,000 Budweiser going 6 1/2 furlongs June 18 before drawing off to win the $50,000 Mt. Rainier going 1 1/16 miles July 16.

Lucarelli gives Enriquez a lot of the credit for the improvement. The veteran rode him for the first time in the $50,000 Governor’s, where he lost by a neck to Barkley in the six-furlong dash.

“Isaias told me he learned a lot about him the first time he rode him,” Lucarelli said. “He has a good eighth-of-a-mile or three-sixteenth punch, and he timed it perfectly in his next two races.”

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It is an unusual Mile in that there doesn’t appear to be any pure speed in the field. Last year, O B Harbor, who finished third, helped 2016 winner Point Piper set a track record of 1:32.90 when he posted a half-mile time of 44.70 seconds. Compare that with the 49.60 seconds Seattle Serenade, who looks like the main speed, walked through in his conditional allowance win going 1 1/16 miles in his last start at Pleasanton on June 25.

“It doesn’t look like there is a lot of speed, but you know how that goes,” Lucarelli said. “My horse can do anything. Hopefully, he’ll fall out of there and Isaias can get him into a stalking position without going too wide around the first turn.”

Seattle Serenade is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. The Hall of Fame trainer also brought back Point Piper.

Point Piper hasn’t won since his track-record performance, but he has been running against top company, including California Chrome, whom he finished second to in the $180,000 Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos on Dec. 17. He is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3, All American Stakes at Golden Gate on May 29.

“I’ve freshened him up, and he’s doing well right now,” Hollendorfer said.

With impressive wins in his first two starts as a 3-year-old, Seattle Serenade appeared to be on his way to a bright future. However, he was pulled up and vanned off in his third start at Santa Anita on Dec. 11, 2015, and didn’t make it back to the races until March 30 this year. Prior to his win at Pleasanton, he won a $62,500 optional-claiming race at Golden Gate Fields on June 3.

“He’s had his problems, but they are straightened away,” Hollendorfer said. “He can run up front or come from far back.”

Trainer Mike Puhich is expecting a big effort from Chief of Staff, who is coming off a ninth-place finish going seven furlongs in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs at Churchill Downs on May 6. The 91 Beyer Speed Figure he received ties Seattle Serenade and Gold Rush Dancer for the best last-race figure in the field.

“I could have run him in the Mt. Rainier, but he was doing so well, I didn’t want to take a race out of him,” said Puhich, who won the Mile with Taylor Said in 2012.

“The horse I am most worried about is Seattle Serenade. A lot of people say there isn’t a lot of speed in the field, but he can go 45 and change and keep going.”

Bistraya, second in the Mt. Rainier for trainer Robert Gilker, could also show some speed breaking from the rail with Amadeo Perez riding. Perez rode Herbie D to a front-running win in the 2013 Longacres Mile for Gilker.

Styrker Phd will try to win his third Mile for trainer Larry Ross.

Gold Rush Dancer, trained by Vann Belvoir, is looking for his first win since he edged Tough it Out in the $151,000 Real Good Deal for California-breds at Del Mar on July 27 last year.

Belvior’s father, Howard, is hoping Barkley, last year’s top sophomore at Emerald, will turn things around after losing as the favorite in the Budweiser and Mt. Rainier.