07/14/2010 6:28PM

Noosa Beach rolls into Governor's Handicap


AUBURN, Wash. – Noosa Beach and Winning Machine are scheduled to renew their budding rivalry Sunday at Emerald Downs in the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap, one of the final major prep races for the $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22. Eight horses were entered for the Governor’s, which will go as the sixth race on a 10-race program beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific.

Noosa Beach, trained by Doris Harwood and owned by her husband, Jeff, is the current king of the Emerald Downs handicap division. He captured a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race in his 2010 debut, tied the six-furlong track record of 1:07 in the Seattle Handicap in start No. 2, and rolled to a 9 1/4-length victory in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap in his most recent outing June 20.

Winning Machine finished behind his celebrated stablemate in each of those starts, capped by a last-place finish in the Budweiser on a sloppy track. Shortly thereafter, owners Raymond Kwik and Paul Goldberg transferred Winning Machine to trainer Frank Lucarelli, adding a new dimension to a rivalry that has been one-sided, Noosa Beach outrunning his fellow 4-year-old seven times in their first nine meetings.

Noosa Beach is unbeaten at sprint distances, 6 for 6, and appears to own the controlling speed in the Governor’s. Ricky Frazier has the riding assignment on the probable favorite and 121-pound highweight; they’ll break from the No. 5 post, with Winning Machine and jockey Francisco Duran to their immediate right.

Assessment, the 2009 horse of the meeting but 0 for 2 in 2010, could be a formidable presence in the final furlong. The Howard Belvoir-trained 6-year-old faltered badly in the Budweiser, but some added conditioning and a return to a fast track could contribute to a quick turnaround. Regular rider Gallyn Mitchell will be up on Assessment, who finished second in the Governor’s last summer, a length behind Atta Boy Roy.

Others in the field are Davos, a talented but lightly-raced 5-year-old; Gallon, a four-time Emerald stakes winner; and probable longshots He’s All Heart, Margo’s Gift, and Wasserman.

◗ In the co-featured eighth race, the $50,000 Washington’s Lottery Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, Sis’s Sis will try to remain unbeaten in four starts at the meeting. The Jim Penney-trained runner captured the one-mile Irish Day Handicap in her last start June 6. Her sternest challenge in the 1-1/16-mile Washington’s Lottery may come from Ghost Girl, a disappointing seventh as the wagering favorite in the Irish Day in her local debut.