05/26/2010 11:00PM

Posse Power may be plan B for Mile


AUBURN, Wash. - In a predictable world, Posse Power's victory last Sunday in the Auburn Handicap would serve as a stepping-stone to Emerald Downs' marquee race for 3-year-olds, the $75,000 Emerald Derby on Aug. 15. But Posse Power, a rapidly improving colt trained by Frank Lucarelli, might jump into deeper waters this summer.

Much depends on Posse Power's stablemate, Gallant Son, who is scheduled to run Monday in the Grade 1, $250,000 Shoemaker Mile on the grass at Hollywood Park.

Lucarelli said if Gallant Son captures the Shoemaker, he would consider scrapping plans to run his star 4-year-old in the Longacres Mile and instead point him toward a possible start this fall in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on the turf at Churchill Downs. And that's where Posse Power comes into play -- as a potential starter in the Longacres Mile, a Grade 3 with a $250,000 purse on Aug. 22.

"We were talking about that recently," Lucarelli said Sunday after Posse Power won the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Handicap with a strong finishing kick. "I told them if Gallant Son doesn't come up for the Mile, I've got a pretty good back-up plan."

Six 3-year-olds have won the Longacres Mile, none since Collaborator captured the 23rd running in 1958. Lucarelli was 1 at the time; he knows the Mile isn't for lightweights. But after watching Posse Power mature last winter in California, he has decided owner Claire Lein's powerful homebred, by Posse from the Pleasant Colony mare Stellarina, at least belongs in the Mile conversation.

Posse Power made his racing debut last November at Golden Gate. After three near-misses in maiden company, he broke through with a five-length victory Jan. 10, and then won his first start against winners, edging subsequent stakes winner Dream Nettie in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Posse Power then ran a hard-luck third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby. Blocked repeatedly on the second turn and through the stretch, he finished 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Connemara.

Lucarelli and Lein then rolled the dice, starting Posse Power in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby following a six-week freshening. Sent off at 64-1, he finished a well-beaten eighth, nearly 10 lengths behind Sidney's Candy.

"He really didn't run his race,"

Lucarelli said. "He wasn't acting quite as sharp as I had hoped in the week leading up to the race. But if you look at video of every other race he's run, you could make a case for him winning every one of them. He's had some troubled trips."

As for Gallant Son, Lucarelli said he has been training well at Hollywood Park for his third attempt in a Grade 1. Gallant Son finished seventh, beaten less than four lengths, in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and seventh, 6 1/2 lengths back, in the 2009 Santa Anita Derby.

Gallant Son, the champion juvenile at Emerald Downs in 2008, seems to have found his calling on the turf, winning 2 of 3 starts. In his most recent outing, he rallied from midpack to take the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park on April 25. He earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure, the fourth-fastest for 1 1/16 miles on grass in North America this year.

The Shoemaker attracted 18 nominees, including a handful of Grade 1 winners, but Gallant Son would seem to have a fighting chance.

"If he wins, we may start thinking about the Breeders' Cup, and if we do that, we'll have to back off him at some point," Lucarelli said. "The Longacres Mile falls right in the middle of everything, so we'd have a lot to consider."

Pair of good 3-year-olds injured

Emerald's contingent of stakes-caliber 3-year-olds took a couple of serious hits last week.

Hollywood Harbor, a three-time stakes winner in 2009, was turned out for an indeterminate period after suffering damage in his left front suspensory ligament.

Boundtogetbusy, a romping winner of a first-level allowance race in his local debut April 25, suffered a knee injury in a workout and will miss the balance of the meeting.

Boundtogetbusy won a maiden race at Turf Paradise in his career debut Jan. 16, then finished second in a pair of allowance races before shipping to Emerald Downs. In his local debut, he ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.20, a second off the track record, and won by 5 1/2 lengths.

"He cracked a knee and he'll be gone about six months," trainer Charles Essex said. "It's a shame, because the Auburn Handicap looked like a really good spot for him."

* Francisco Duran rode five winners Sunday and moved into the top 10 in the jockey standings. Apprentice Pedro Terrero rode nine winners during the three-day weekend, giving him 22 from just 70 mounts (31 percent). He's second in the standings, one behind Juan Gutierrez.