The Longacres Mile will be contested for the 79th time this Sunday at Emerald Downs.
The Mile has been held at:
Emerald Downs – 18 times (1996-2013)
Yakima Meadows – 3 times (1993-1995)
Longacres – 57 times (1935-1942, 1944-1992)
Lets go back in time – 50 years ago – The 1964 “MAGICAL MILE”
Viking Spirit, the big, red Thoroughbred was the only invader of the 11 shipping in to run in the 29th running of the Mile.
And he got the money with Hall of Fame rider Johnny Longden sitting in the saddle. Viking Spirit, the 7-5 betting favorite, tied the track record (1:34-2) and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Doctor Spark.
“We figured Smogy (Dew) had to set the early pace,” owner T.E. Brittingham III said. “We thought our horse was bigger and stronger. We didn’t want to hook up on the Clubhouse turn. I thought Johnny, who usually likes to go right to the front, showed remarkable patience.”
The splendid filly Smogy Dew, who the talk of the town, disappointed the 10,526 fans at the Renton oval after sprinting clear and leading for a 1/2-mile before Viking Spirit but a bit of pressure on the Washington-bred 3-year-old. She finished 6th after winning the Longacres Derby just a week prior.
The handle on the Mile was $115K – the most bet on a single race at the Longacres racetrack.
Viking Spirit returned eight days later to win the $33,700 Del Mar Handicap by 2 lengths.
In 1965 as a 5-year-old he collected victories all over the country – The San Francisco Mile (Golden Gate), Premiere and the Californian (Hollywood Park), Carter (Aqueduct) and the Bing Crosby (Del Mar).
He knocked off Native Diver on two occasions in 1965 – The San Francisco Mile and the Premiere. They would meet one last time in the 7 F Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park. They dueled head-and-head throughout the stretch with Native Diver winning by a Neck. The fractions: :22-1, :44, 1:07-4 and 1:20 for 7/8ths. The time equaled the world record.