08/16/2008 11:00PM

True Metropolitan eyes rebound in Mile


AUBURN, Wash. - Two-time Sovereign Award winner True Metropolitan heads a full field of 12 in Sunday's 73rd renewal of the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

The Longacres Mile is a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race for the first time this year, and the winner will earn a slot in the gate for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

True Metropolitan, a 6-year-old son of Proud and True who races for Bob Cheema, was named Canada's best older horse in each of the last two years. He won 7 of 12 starts in 2006, then went 7 for 10 last year while winning stakes at Hastings, Woodbine, and Northlands Park.

True Metropolitan, who is trained by Terry Jordan, began his 2008 campaign with wins in the six-furlong George Royal at Hastings and the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Eclipse at Woodbine, but he was upset at low odds at Woodbine in his last two tries. Even though True Metropolitan finished second in both the Grade 3, 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day Handicap on July 1 and the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Seagram Cup on July 27, Jordan feels the horse continues to race in peak form.

"To my mind, he has run four winning races this year," Jordan said. "He was a victim of tactical mistakes in his last two races, and I have to take my share of the blame. In his first loss, we choked him back too much for too long. Last time, we thought the inside was bad, so we elected to keep him in the middle of the track, and a horse came up the rail and beat him a half-length. One of the handicappers there estimated he ran 80 yards farther than the winner."

Jordan said True Metropolitan came out of his latest excursion to Woodbine in good shape and was sharp in his final Mile prep, a half-mile move in 47.20 seconds on Aug. 10 at Hastings. He will break from post 11 under regular rider James McAleney and will carry high weight of 122 pounds.

Perhaps because of his wide post, track handicapper Rob Rao made True Metropolitan the 3-1 second choice behind Southern California invader Tropic Storm, who will exit post 2 with Aaron Gryder up at 118 pounds.

Tropic Storm, a 4-year-old Stormy Atlantic colt who races for West Point Thoroughbreds, has won 4 of 11 starts while racing against elite company. The Craig Dollase-trained Tropic Storm is coming off a creditable third to Street Boss in Hollywood's Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs on July 3. Earlier this year, he ran second to Street Boss in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming affair at Santa Anita, and he ran second to Rebellion in Hollywood's Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at 7 1/2 furlongs.

Terry Finley, the founder and president of West Point Thoroughbreds, said the Mile's Win and You're In status played a role in his team's decision to send Tropic Storm to Emerald Downs.

"We'd really like to get to the Breeders' Cup with this horse, and we thought if we run well up there we'd be sure of getting in," Finley said. "The other thing is the purse money. It's tough to get the money when you're running against Street Boss every time. We really think it's time to get this dude to the winner's circle."

Tropic Storm arrived at Emerald on Thursday along with Luhuk's Dancer, who was claimed by trainer Ted West for owner Jeffrey Sengara out of a third-place finish against $80,000 turf runners at Del Mar on July 19. West and Sengara teamed to win the 1999 Mile with $2.8 million earner Budroyale, whom they claimed for $50,000.

Heading the local contingent in the Mile are Wasserman and Nationhood, both double stakes winners at the Emerald Downs meeting.

Wasserman, a 6-year-old Washington-bred who races for trainer Howard Belvoir, won a pair of 6 1/2-furlong stakes and comes off a narrow miss in the $75,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap at nine furlongs.

Nationhood, a 6-year-old son of Cherokee Run from the barn of trainer Mike Chambers, won the six-furlong Seattle Handicap and the Budweiser Emerald Handicap at a mile for Cander Racing.