08/10/2010 10:42AM

Noosa Beach tops 22 Longacres Mile nominations


AUBURN, Wash. – Noosa Beach, the fastest horse at Emerald Downs, headlines a list of 22 nominees for the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 22.

An Emerald-based runner has won every edition of the Mile since 2005, and Noosa Beach, a three-time stakes winner this year, would seem to have a substantial home-course advantage. But as it usually does, the Mile is shaping up as litmus test for the locals, with stakes winners from California, Kentucky, Florida, and Canada lining up to challenge Noosa Beach and his Emerald rivals.

Trainer Doris Harwood, Emerald’s all-time leader with 46 stakes victories, will attempt to win the Longacres Mile for the first time with Noosa Beach, whose season has included stakes victories at six furlongs, one mile, and, most recently, 1 1/8 miles in the Mount Rainier Handicap on Aug. 1.

Gallant Son, Emerald Downs’ leading 2-year-old in 2008 and now based in Southern California, tops a group of 11 nominees from other locales. Gallant Son captured the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap on the turf at Hollywood Park in April and was a fast-closing third in the Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar in his last start July 28. His trainer, Frank Lucarelli, ranks second in career victories at Emerald but, like Harwood, has never saddled a Mile winner.

Southern California trainers Doug O’Neill and Bob Baffert, both previous Mile winners, could be represented. O’Neill nominated Enriched, who finished third after setting the pace in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in his most recent outing July 31. Baffert has Mythical Power, who captured the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in April.

Among the wild cards are Delightful Kiss, who has won four graded stakes and more than $1 million; Here Comes Ben, who won a minor stakes at Churchill Downs in June; and Hollywood Hit, a 4-year-old who broke the seven-furlong track record at Woodbine in May.

Hastings-based trained Dino Condilenios nominated three runners: Teide, who finished third in the 2009 Mile, Almost Time, and sprint sensation Burj Dubai.

Assessment, the 2009 winner, or Wasserman, who won in 2008, could give trainer Howard Belvoir an unprecedented third consecutive Mile victory. Other locally based nominees include Davos, Dixie Meister, Gallon, Jersey Town, Noble Juan, Rooster City, Taif, and Winning Machine.

Emerald Downs director of racing Bret Anderson will release weights Saturday, with entries to be drawn Aug. 18. The field is limited to 12 horses, with high weights preferred.