06/18/2007 11:00PM

Long time between Miles for Roberts


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Craig Roberts hasn't saddled a Longacres Mile starter since the Grade 3 race, which now boasts a purse of $400,000, was transferred to Emerald Downs in 1995. With any luck at all, that will change with this year's Aug. 19 renewal of the Northwest's most prestigious race.

Westsideclyde secured his spot in the Mile with his second straight stakes win, an authoritative score in Sunday's $60,000 Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile. Under Ricky Frazier at 119 pounds, Westsideclyde contested the pace through six furlongs in 1:09.40, then drew off to score by 1 1/2 lengths over the comebacking Poker Brad in a sparkling 1:34.20.

The victory for Westsideclyde, a 5-year-old son of Old Topper who races for Linda Elledge and Dr. James Riedinger, was the result of a superb job of training by Roberts. Westsideclyde, who missed his entire 3-year-old season with an injured tendon, exited his May 28 win in the 6 1/2-furlong FSN Handicap somewhat the worse for wear.

"The people in the receiving barn told me he was a little off after that race, and of course I was concerned," said Roberts. "The next day I was able to confirm that it had nothing to do with his tendon, though. He was just a little body-sore, and I figured I could deal with that."

Deal with it he did, but it was a challenge to bring Westsideclyde back to his best form in just a little over three weeks.

"I had to baby him a little," said Roberts. "He did a lot of walking and jogging two miles, and when I finally worked him he went very slow. He ran the last furlong of that work in 12 seconds, though, and that was encouraging. When he's not right he won't finish that way."

Rumors about Westsideclyde's condition, which seemed to be confirmed when he worked a worst-of-the-day 52.40 for a half-mile last Tuesday, kept him from being favored on Sunday. That role went to the Ron Crockett-trained entry of the presumed pacesetter, The Great Face, and the late-running Don'twritemeoff. The Great Face was effectively eliminated when he broke slowly, however, and Don'twritemeoff could get up only for fourth in the 10-horse field after rating far off a moderate early pace.

The rival who impressed Roberts - and most everyone else who saw the Budweiser Emerald - was Poker Brad. The 9-year-old Poker Brad returned from a 23-month layoff to get second after contesting the pace throughout.

"I thought Poker Brad ran a super race under the circumstances," said Roberts. "For an old guy like that to be still around and still a problem for the rest of us, it's really something. He's a horse to be reckoned with."

So is Westsideclyde, who will get his final prep for the Mile on Mile Preview Day, July 29, when both the 6o1/2-furlong, $45,000 Governor's Handicap and the 1 1/8-mile, $70,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap will be run. Roberts said he has not decided which race Westsideclyde will contest.

Roberts participated in at least four runnings of the Longacres Mile at Longacres. He saddled Willie Steel (7th) in 1979, Tilt the Balance (11th) in 1982, and Ben Adhem in both 1976 (3rd) and 1977 (2nd). He recalled his first try at the Mile with Ben Adhem, who was notorious for his taste for horseflesh.

"I was planning to run both Ben Adhem and Dusty County in the Mile that year, and I wanted Laffit Pincay to ride Ben Adhem," said Roberts. "Laffit said he would come up to ride Dusty County, but he didn't want anything to do with Ben Adhem. He was such a rogue that people up and down the West Coast knew about him."

Dusty County didn't make it to the 1976 Mile, so Roy Yaka, the regular rider for both of the Roberts-trained stars, rode Ben Adhem.

"Ben Adhem didn't go 50 yards before he veered out and grabbed another horse by the neck," said Roberts. "He still ran third, but he might have won if he had minded his manners."

Sizzling maiden win for Get You

Get You, a 3-year-old son of Katowice and Bag Person from the barn of trainer Jim Penney, made a spectacular debut in Saturday's maiden special weight offering that went as the third race. Ridden by Gallyn Mitchell, Get You was dismissed as the 7-1 third choice behind his heavily favored stablemate, Jamaica Bound.

"Booger had his choice between our two horses, and he chose Get You," reported Penney's son-in-law, Bryson Cooper. "We told him there would be a lot of speed in the race, and he said 'I'll show them speed.' "

He did just that. Get You smoked the half-mile in 43.60, then coasted home to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Jamaica Bound in 1:14.20 for 6 1/2 furlongs. It was the fastest time at the distance ever recorded by a maiden at Emerald Downs.

"He had shown us a lot in the mornings, but we didn't expect him to go quite that fast," said Cooper. "He is pretty exiting prospect."

As always seems to be the case with good horses, there is a story behind Get You.

The Penney family's Homestretch Farm acquired Get You's dam, Bag Person, for a bargain price.

"We bought his dam for $1,200 to serve as a companion for another broodmare we owned," said Penney's son-in-law, Bryson Cooper. "Ever since we got her, she has thrown nothing but runners."

Get You is a half-brother to the stakes-placed Nu Rays Arabella and Imagunna, an extremely fast allowance winner.

* A memorial service for longtime Longacres starter Art McCready, who died last week, has been set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, at the M.J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds at Emerald Downs.