08/17/2009 11:00PM

Longacres Mile attracts record handle


AUBURN, Wash. - With memories of a thrilling and record-setting Longacres Mile still fresh, Emerald Downs turns its attention to the final six weeks of racing, starting Thursday with an eight-race program beginning at 6 p.m.

A total of $796,268 was wagered on the Grade 3, $300,000 Mile on Sunday, an Emerald Downs single-race record, and the full-card handle of $3,053,392 was the second highest in the track's 14 seasons. While Emerald does not release turnstile counts, track president Ron Crockett said about 14,000 fans were in the house to witness Assessment's three-quarter-length victory over 2-1 favorite Awesome Gem and 10 others.

Assessment, who completed the mile in 1:33.40, .40 of a second off Sky Jack's track and stakes record, earned a guaranteed berth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in November. And Howard Belvoir, who saddled Wasserman to win the 2008 Longacres Mile, became the fifth trainer in the Mile's 74-year history to win it in consecutive seasons.

"The Breeders' Cup will depend on how he's going and whether his numbers fit on the sheets and the Beyers," Belvoir said Tuesday morning of Assessment, who earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. "That should be able to tell you how he fits in there."

Assessment, who was bred in Kentucky, is not eligible for the season-ending Washington Cup, so he will have to venture out of town for his next assignment.

"I'm going to train him for a couple of days, and then I'm going to search around for a race," Belvoir said. "I wouldn't mind turning him out and saving him for next year, but he's going good right now."

* A $10,000 claimer for 3-year-old fillies headlines the card Thursday, day No. 68 of the 91-day season. Martimatic and Especially Capable, both two-time winners at the meeting, are the top contenders in a competitive field of seven. Martimatic is conditioned by defending training champion Tim McCanna, who trails Doris Harwood 46-45 in the current standings. Ricky Frazier, who leads Gallyn Mitchell 119-90 in the race for the riding title, has the riding assignment.

* Emerald's next stakes race is the $50,000 WTBA Lads for 2-year-old colts and geldings Aug. 29, leading to the climactic $75,000 Gottstein Futurity in late September. The season's 3-year-old championship will be determined in the $75,000 Emerald Derby on Labor Day. Washington Cup Day, featuring seven stakes for horses bred in Washington or British Columbia, is Sept. 13.