08/16/2001 11:00PM

A Mile to go for the glory


AUBURN, Wash. - The arrival of Irisheyesareflying from Southern California early on Saturday morning completes a strong 10-horse field for Sunday's Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

Irisheyesareflying, a 5-year-old Flying Continental horse who races for trainer John Dolan and partners, will share a highweight assignment of 117 pounds with Mike K and Makors Mark in the 66th Mile. Irisheyesareflying, who was claimed for $50,000 in May of last year, won a pair of high-priced optional claiming events at Santa Anita last winter and has since placed in two graded stakes, finishing second in both the Grade 2 San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita in April and the Grade 3 All-American Handicap at Bay Meadows in May.

In his most recent outing, the Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood on June 10, Irisheyesareflying faded to seventh of eight after pressing the pace of Skimming. Southern California rider Iggy Puglisi will venture north to ride the California-bred Irisheyesareflying, who drew the outside post.

Despite the invader's credentials, Mike K is expected to be a solid favorite in the Mile. Mike K was regarded as the best horse in the Northwest in 1999, when he won five stakes at Hastings Park and ran a close second to Budroyale in the Longacres Mile. A 7-year-old son of Restless Con, he missed all of last year with a suspensory injury, but picked up where he left off by winning the 6 1/2-furlong Independence Day Handicap at Emerald and the 6 1/2-furlong British Columbia Sprint Handicap at Hastings on Aug. 6. Frank Fuentes will ride Mike K for Breakaway Stable and trainer Dave Forster.

Forster will also saddle Makors Mark and Chilean import Advantage for the Mile. Makors Mark won last season's prestigious B.C. Derby at Hastings and has won the two richest races for older horses contested thus far at the current Emerald meeting. He finished a half-length in front of Crowning Meeting in the $75,000 Budweiser-Emerald Handicap in June and posted a length victory over Kittys Link in the $100,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap in July. Makors Mark, who races for a syndicate headed by bloodstock agent Packy McMurry, will be ridden by Gary Baze, who has been aboard the winners of five previous Longacres Miles.

Adding zip to the 2001 Mile field is Handy N Bold, who has dominated sprint stakes at Emerald for the past two meetings. Handy N Bold, who is tied with Ropersandwranglers for most stakes wins at Emerald with nine, is coming off a smashing five-length score in the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap on Aug. 5. He has not won in four prior attempts around two turns, including a sixth place finish in last year's Mile, but poses a bold threat if he gets loose on the lead under Hector Ventura, Jr. at 115 pounds.

The Mile field also includes 1997 Mile winner Kid Katabatic, multiple stakes-placed Crowning Meeting, northern California invader Prodigious, Turf Paradise stakes winner Snohomish Loot, and Kittys Link, who could be the value play.

Kittys Link, an earner of more than $250,000, has raced only twice this year, finishing a fast-closing second in both a $50,000 optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs and the

1 1/16-mile Mt. Rainier. The 7-year-old Kittys Link goes for trainer Jim Penney, whose three previous wins in the Mile include a victory by Edneator last year, he gets in light at 113 pounds with Gallyn Mitchell in the irons, and he should be sitting on a peak effort in the third outing of his current campaign.