08/06/2007 11:00PM

Longacres Mile has solid cast, but few Breeders' Cup hopefuls


AUBURN, Wash. - The list of 27 nominees for the Aug. 19 running of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile was released on Monday, and there is no question it is a star-studded roster. There are seven graded stakes winners on the list, including Grade 1 winner Buzzards Bay and True Metropolitan, Canada's top handicap horse of 2006.

Whether the list is quite what was hoped for when the Mile purse was increased to a record $400,000 earlier this year is another question. Track officials envisioned the Mile as a key prep for the newly created $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Monmouth Park on Oct. 26, and they hoped it would draw nominations from around the country. All of the nominees are based on the West Coast, however, and few at this point could be considered legitimate threats to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, which could draw the likes of Hard Spun, Discreet Cat, and Surf Cat.

Buzzards Bay and True Metropolitan are high-class individuals, however, and a win in the Mile could well propel them into the Breeders' Cup race. Buzzards Bay, a 5-year-old son of Marco Bay, has won four graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and the Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood Park this June. True Metropolitan, a 5-year-old from the barn of Hastings-based trainer Terry Jordan, has won three graded stakes, including the Grade 3 Dominion Day at Woodbine in July.

What's more, both of the headliners seem likely to start in the Mile. True Metropolitan has been targeting the Mile all season and will start barring injury. Ron Ellis, who trains Buzzards Bay, told Emerald Downs broadcaster Joe Withee that he is seriously considering the Mile, the more so because Buzzards Bay showed no affinity for Del Mar's new surface while running eighth as the favorite in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 21.

Others who have told Withee they intend to contest the Mile include Art Sherman, the trainer of Hollywood Park allowance winner Lang Field; Roger Stein, the trainer of Grade 3 stakes winner Gotaghostofachance; and Bob Baffert, the trainer of Grade 3 stakes winner Wanna Runner. Raise the Bluff, who won the Santana Mile at Santa Anita as well as last year's Emerald Derby, will also run.

The shippers will likely face last year's Mile winner, Flamethrowintexan, as well as The Great Face and Wasserman, the winners of key preps contested on Mile Preview Day, July 29.

Mulcahy full of surprises

Just a week after upsetting the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap with 12-1 shot Wasserman, trainer Howard Belvoir and rider Jennifer Whitaker teamed up to win last Sunday's 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap for 3-year-olds with Mulcahy, the longest price on the board at 15-1.

Wasserman took advantage of a suicidal pace to win the Governor's from far back, and it might be difficult to duplicate that performance. No such knock can be placed on Mulcahy's Seattle Slew win. The fractions of 23.20 seconds, 46, and 1.09.60 were not exceptional over the glib Emerald Downs surface, yet Mulcahy came from last to storm by the leaders nearing the sixteenth pole and swiftly drew out to score by 4 1/2 lengths over Wild Cycle in a stakes-record 1:41.20. The scope of the victory surprised even Belvoir, who was high on his horse going into the race.

"I thought he'd run well," said the trainer. "But you don't ever expect to win by five."

Belvoir pointed out that Mulcahy, a son of Tribunal whom he owns in partnership with Harley Hoppe, was beaten less than two lengths despite a less-than-ideal trip in the one-mile Tacoma Handicap on July 1. He figured the extra sixteenth of a mile would help Mulcahy's chances on Sunday, and he is confident that yet more ground will only make the gelding tougher to beat.

That's a good thing, because Mulcahy is slated to make his next start in the $100,000 Emerald Derby at nine furlongs on Sept. 3.

Victory Script wins in class jump

Victory Script continued her remarkable streak on Saturday, winning for the fifth time in five starts at the meet. There were a couple of things different about her latest score, however. After posting a win for $17,500 and three wins for $20,000 for trainer Tim McCanna and owner Ron Crockett, Victory Script was claimed by trainer Roy Lumm for Blue Diamond Stable and Janet Johnson. Lumm jumped her to the $50,000 optional claiming level and she won more easily than ever, drawing off to score by two lengths with 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.

"I was a little leery about claiming her," admitted Lumm. "She had been off a year, and Tim kept running her back for the same price. I knew she must have problems, but I hoped I could deal with them as well as Tim had done."

It turned out that the trainer got help in diagnosing Victory Script's problems.

"After I claimed her, Ron Crockett called me up," said Lumm. "He congratulated me, told me all about what was wrong with her, and wished me luck. I thought that showed a lot of sportsmanship."

Victory Script, a 5-year-old daughter of Game Plan and Staff Wind, has not gone beyond 6 1/2 furlongs at the meeting. Her dam won the Washington Oaks at nine furlongs, however, so Lumm certainly has the option of trying to stretch her out. It is an option he is not eager to take.

"I'm a little reluctant to change anything at this point," said the trainer. "She is going so good right now, I don't want to mess her up."

Commission names new executive

The Oregon Racing Commission has chosen Randy Evers as its new executive director. Evers currently works as the administrator of the personal income tax and compliance division for the Oregon Department of Revenue. He replaces Jodi Hanson, who resigned in February.

Gordon Tallman will continue to serve as interim executive director until Evers assumes his new post on Sept. 1.