Updated on 09/17/2011 11:15AM

Sky Jack heads Mile as field shrinks


AUBURN, Wash. - Sky Jack heads a field of 10 in Sunday's 68th running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Longacres Mile, the premiere race of the Emerald Downs meeting.

Sunday's 11-race Mile Day card also includes the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff for older fillies and mares at a mile and the $20,000 Washington Thoroughbred Owners' Handicap, which matches eight of the fastest sprinters on the grounds at five furlongs. No weights are assigned in the Owners' Handicap, with the jockeys riding at as low a weight as they can make.

The field for the Mile was reduced from 12 scheduled entrants on Friday morning when the Bobby Frankel-trained Nose the Trade spiked a temperature of 102.5 degrees and Flying Notes exhibited what trainer Bud Klokstad termed a "hot tendon."

Sky Jack, the 123-pound highweight, will concede from two to 11 pounds to his nine rivals in the Mile. Sky Jack drew a favorable post, 3, and morning-line oddsmaker Lance Williams pegged him as the clear favorite at 9-5.

Sky Jack, who will be ridden for the first time by Russell Baze, has won 9 of 17 starts. He scored his biggest win in last year's Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles. The 7-year-old Sky Jack is coming off a sharp allowance win at Hollywood on July 5, when he sped 1 1/16 miles in 1:41 to earn a 115 Beyer Speed Figure. He is owned by Ren-Mar Thoroughbreds and trained by Doug O'Neill

Second-highweight Gondolieri, who will carry 121 pounds, drew the outside post for the Mile and risks being compromised by a wide trip around the first turn. Gondolieri, a Chilean-bred 4-year-old from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, was a Group 1 winner last year in Chile. This year in Southern California, he has one victory in five starts - a three-length score in the $103,000 Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. He is coming off a troubled second in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 3. Regular rider Frank Alvarado has the mount.

The local entrants include Alfurune and Poker Brad, who will be the featured players in a recently approved head-to-head wager in the Mile. The two have traded decisions in their last two outings, with Alfurune outfinishing Poker Brad in the Independence Day Handicap and Poker Brad reversing the decision in the Mt. Rainier Handicap on July 27. Fans may wager on which horse will beat the other, regardless of their finish positions.