08/02/2010 7:36AM

Noosa Beach shows he's a true Longacres Mile threat

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AUBURN, Wash. – Noosa Beach dominated the 1 1/8-mile Mount Rainier Handicap Sunday at Emerald Downs, putting to rest doubts about his ability to get the distance and cementing his status as the leading contender for the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22.

Winning for the fourth time in five starts in 2010, Noosa Beach, the 8-5 second choice in a field of seven older horses, shook off the last of his challengers at the top of the stretch and powered away to win by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:48. He paid $5.20. Ricky Frazier rode the winner for trainer Doris Harwood and owner/breeder Jeff Harwood, Doris Harwood’s husband.

Senor Rojo, a shipper from Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., rallied to finish second, a neck in front of third-place finisher Rooster City. Gallon, who had a narrow lead on the backstretch but couldn’t keep step with Noosa Beach in the stretch, was fourth, followed by Wasserman, 11-10 wagering favorite Assessment, and Dixie Meister.

The $27,500 winner’s share of the $50,000 purse increased Noosa Beach’s lifetime earnings to $244,340. He has won 8 of 14 starts, including three stakes victories in 2010.

If he starts as planned in the Longacres Mile, Noosa Beach, a 4-year-old by Harbor the Gold, will seek to emulate Flamethrowintexan (2006), The Great Face (2007), and Assessment (2009), who all won the Mile following victories in the Mount Rainier Handicap. Nominations for the Mile, the Northwest’s only graded race, close Sunday.