08/13/2002 12:00AM

Redattore leads long list of Longacres candidates


AUBURN, Wash. - The season for speculation on the field for the Aug. 25, Grade 3 Longacres Mile officially opened on Sunday, when nominations closed for the $250,000 race, the highlight of the Emerald Downs meeting.

Thirty-seven horses were nominated, including one from the Midwest, four from Canada, 15 stabled on the grounds, and 17 based in California, which has produced the winners of four of the last six runnings of the Mile. The high number of nominations from California can be attributed in part to the success of Isitingood in 1996, Wild Wonder in 1998, Budroyale in 1999, and Irisheyesareflying in 2001. It can also be attributed to director of simulcasting Chuck Potter, who traveled to Del Mar to solicit nominations the weekend before last.

"I ended up getting a fair number of nominations, but it wasn't easy," Potter said. "The competition for good horses gets tougher every year because there are just so many rich races around the country now. The Longacres Mile still carries a lot of prestige, though, and at least a couple of trainers seemed very enthusiastic about bringing horses up this year."

Potter said Richard Mandella, who nominated Redattore, and Nick Hines, who nominated Eric Da Bomb, were most positive about coming.

Mandella was bitten by the Mile bug in 1978, when he sent out Bad'N Big to win the race under Bill Shoemaker. Bad'N Big returned to run third in the 1979 mile, and Mandella shipped up Big Ten to run second to Edneator in 2000.

In Redattore he has another strong contender. The 7-year-old Reddatore has earned $935,315 from 10 wins in 24 starts. A Grade 1 winner on turf, Redattore also won this year's Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita and seems equally adept on either surface. He last started in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar on July 28, finishing a good third to Sarafan and Beat Hollow.

Hines has never started a horse at Emerald, but Eric Da Bomb seems a prime candidate for this year's Mile after running the race of his career in his last start at Del Mar on Aug. 5. Coming off a brief freshening to contest a one-mile allowance race, the 5-year-old son of Flying Victor went to the front at the start and increased his lead at every pole, winning by 13 lengths in 1:34.80 to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 114.

Laffit Pincay Jr. rode both Redattore and Eric Da Bomb in their recent outings, but Pincay is expected to remain at Del Mar to ride Sky Jack in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, which will be run on the same day as the Mile.

Salt Grinder's fast win

The third time was a charm for Salt Grinder, who could not catch divisional leader Flying Notes in either the one-mile Seattle Slew Handicap in June or the 1 1/16-mile Tacoma Handicap in July. It was a different story in Sunday's $65,000 Washington Owners Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, as Salt Grinder attacked his nemesis from the beginning under an aggressive ride from Gallyn Mitchell and eventually wore him down to score by two lengths in 1:40.60, the fastest time at the meeting for 1 1/16 miles. It was nearly 20 lengths farther back to Melcapwalker, the third-place finisher in a field of four.

"Salt Grinder ran defensively the first two times he met Flying Notes, and we weren't satisfied that we got everything out of him," said trainer Jim Penney. "We wanted to go on the offense this time. We felt it was essentially a match race, and you can't come from behind in a match race."

Flying Notes, who went off as the 3-10 favorite under leading rider Kevin Radke, turned back Salt Grinder's bid for the lead at the start and then repulsed another challenge passing the half-mile pole, but he had to go six furlongs in a torrid 1:08.80 to stay in front. When Salt Grinder came to him for a third time turning for home, Flying Notes could not answer.

"It should make for a very interesting Derby," said Penney, referring to the 1 1/8-mile Emerald Derby on Sept. 2. "I hope we can duplicate today's result, but either way it will be an exciting race for the fans. These horses have developed quite a rivalry."

Smells like Tillamook

Apprentice Melissa Peery didn't ride here last week, but she made good use of her time away. Peery rode five winners to nail down leading rider honors at the three-day fair meet in Tillamook, Oregon, where blocks of cheese are awarded to each trainer and rider who competes. As leading rider, Peery got an additional block of cheese

* Karen Knapp has ridden 25 winners from 228 mounts at this stand, but that is only part of the story. When Charlie Haan paid $56.40 to win on Sunday, he became the eighth horse Knapp booted home at better than 10-1. The return on investment of each $2 bet on Knapp's mounts now stands at a remarkable $2.28.