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Mile Week in the Northwest

18 Aug

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.

Longden pix

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.”Viking pix










1964-Smogy Dew pix


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.




Taylor “Said” for the B.C. entourage at Emerald Downs, winning the 77th Longacres Mile

21 Aug

What a day it was Sunday at Emerald Downs in Auburn, WA.

Under blue skies and a throng of race fans and bettors – The Hastings, B.C. shipper TAYLOR SAID held on by a desperate head to win the 77th running of the most anticipated Thoroughbred race in the Pacific Northwest – The Longacres Mile. Taylor Said extended his win streak to SIX with a gut-wrenching stretch duel with the locally-based Winning Machine. Winning Machine was trying to give longtime Washington trainer Frank Lucarelli his first Mile victory. But it wasn’t to be as 2012 Kentucky Derby winning jockey Mario Gutierrez found the wire first for owner Glen Todd and North American Thoroughbred Horse Co. and listed trainer Mike Puhich of Renton, WA. Mario became the first jockey to win the Derby and the LGA Mile in the same year. Hall of fame jockey’s Eddie Arcaro and Gary Stevens came the closest. Arcaro in 1950 was second in the Derby aboard Hill Prince and won the Mile aboard Two and Twenty. Stevens finished second on Best Pal in the 1991 Derby and returned to win the Longacres Mile that year aboard Louis Cyphre.

Here is the short-list of jockeys to win both the Ky. Derby and the Longacres Mile:

Eddie Arcaro 1950 Mile – 1938, 1941, 1945, 1948 and 1952 Kentucky Derbys

Eddie Delahoussaye 1998 Mile – 1982 and 1983 Kentucky Derbys

Mario Gutierrez 2012 Mile – 2012 Kentucky Derby

Bill Hartack 1955 Mile – 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1969 Kentucky Derbys

Laffit Pincay, Jr. 1983 and 1986 Mile’s – 1984 Kentucky Derby

John Longden 1962 Mile – 1943 Kentucky Derby

John Sellers 1967 Mile – 1961 Kentucky Derby

Bill Shoemaker 1978 Mile – 1955, 1959, 1965 and 1986 Kentucky Derbys

Gary Stevens 1991 Mile – 1988, 1995 and 1997 Kentucky Derbys

Taylor Said extended his win streak to six wins with the Mile victory. Trooper Seven won his final five races with the Lga Mile of 1981 being his final start. Snipledo won the 1990 Mile to run his win streak to five.

Awesome Gem – Can he repeat?

17 Aug

Awesome Gem beat Noosa Beach on the square last year and now he’s back to defend his title.

Here’s a look back at how Mile winners did the year they were trying to go back-to-back:

Not the best of records, I might add.




Longacres Mile – Top 10 from the 20th Century

16 Aug

In 1999, the Emerald Downs Media Dept. asked longtime followers of the Longacres Mile to vote for their 10 best.

 The results were posted Mile Week of 1999.

TROOPER SEVEN won both times he appeared in the Longacres Mile!

“They will not catch him, HE’s TROOPER SEVEN,” track announcer Gary Henson pronounced that Sunday afternoon.

Here is the cover of the Seattle Times from 1981:

Here are the charts of three races from that famous day (Aug. 23, 1981) of racing at the Renton oval created by Joe Gottstein:

The career record of


The “Magical” Mile – Jockeys

14 Aug

Sunday is the big day – the 77th running of the Longacres Mile!

Lets span back and look at some of the illustrious jockeys that sat aboard some of the beautiful Thoroughbreds to race in the Pacific Northwest.

GARY BAZE (3,504 career wins) leads all of the 343 jockeys to ride in the Mile with FIVE WINS from 19 mounts. Gary won back-to-back Miles aboard TROOPER SEVEN in 1980-1981. He did the trick again in 1985 aboard CHUM SALMON. Two years later he was aboard JUDGE ANGELUCCI in the winner’s circle. His final Mile win came at Yakima Meadows aboard 30-1 outsider ADVENTURESOME LOVE (1993).

RUSSELL BAZE (11,675 career wins)  is the other rider with more than two victories. Russell was aboard SIMPLY MAJESTIC in 1988 and picked up his next two Mile wins at Emerald Downs aboard SKY JACK and ADREAMISBORN in consecutive years (2003-2004). Russell the “Muscle” with a mount this week would tie his cousin Gary with 19 trips in the 1-mile race. He’s ridden in the past 10 LGA Miles and it would be his 13th Mile mount at Longacres and that would be a record.

LAFFIT PINCAY, JR. (9,530 wins) won aboard two of his three rides in the Mile. The Pirate sat aboard Chinook Pass (1983) and Skywalker (1986).

SANDY HAWLEY (6,450 wins) notched two wins and a second from five rides. Past the wire first aboard Yu Wipi in 1976 and Pompeii Court in 1982.

JOHN LONGDEN (6,032 wins) made it to the wire first in two Miles (Harpie – 1962 and Viking Spirit – 1964), from seven mounts.

GARY STEVENS (4,888 wins) won one Mile (Louis Cyphre 1991) and also had a second in six attempts. The runner-up finish was aboard 3-10 Hesabull in 1997. Hesabull was the heaviest favorite in the history of the Mile!

BILL SHOEMAKER (8,833 wins) trekked to Longacres in 1949 to ride a 3-year-old filly named Irene’s Angel who was assigned 100 pounds. The 18-year-old apprentice missed by a neck to Blue Tiger. Shoemaker wouldn’t ride in his next Mile until 1978 when he guided Bad ‘N Big to a 3/4-length victory. The “Shoe’s” final Mile was in 1981 when he had the mount on Doonesbury (5-2 3rd choice). Track announcer Gary Henson summed it up: “And Doonesbury has pulled up,” while he raced into the first turn.

GARRETT GOMEZ (3,630 wins) toured the EmD racetrack in the 1999 Mile aboard the nifty winner Budroyale.

EDDIE ARCARO (4,779 wins) shipped in from Chicago to ride in the 1950 Longacres Mile because the Renton racetrack was the only one in the country racing on Sundays. Arcaro, in his only Mile ride, won on Two and Twenty edging out Whang Bang with Joe Baze doing the whippin’.

EDDIE DELAHOUSSAYE (6,384 wins) won the second fastest Mile in history when he stopped the timer in 1:33 1/5 aboard Wild Wonder in 1998. He also finished third in 1979 riding Bad ‘N Big.

BILL HARTACK (4,272 wins) had a first and a second from his two mounts. He won in 1955 by 6 lengths aboard Quality Quest and returned in 1965 to finish second aboard 3-2 favorite Hoist Bar.


Paul Frey (0-11); did finish second 50 years ago aboard Dr. John H. (1962).

Lennie Knowles (0-10); a second-place finish was best on Doctor Spark in 1964.

Gilbert Simonis (0-10); best finish being third in 1961.

The final Longacres Mile @ the Renton oval – 20 YEARS AGO

13 Aug

The last LONGACRES MILE occurred on August 23, 1992. TWENTY YEARS AGO.

Lets take a look back at that memorable August weekend:

Here are the past performances, courtesy of the Daily Racing Form:

Horses 5-7

Horses 8-10

Horses 11-12


Here are a few graphs from The Seattle Times coverage:


 RENTON – Bolulight, a horse with no hooves on his front feet, fulfilled his owners’ family dream with a stirring half-length victory over Ibero in the 57th and final running of the Longacres Mile in front of 17,182 at Longacres Park.

“We wanted to win this for the memory of our father,” said Bolulight owner Jim Braich, who owns the gelding with his four brothers. “This is the race we wanted all along. It really is hard to say how you feel.” Braich’s father, who died in 1976, was close friends with Longacres founder Joe Gottstein and raced horses for 30 years.

The family’s feelings were obviously strong after Bolulight’s near track-record performance of 1 minute, 34 seconds in the $293,800 Mile , just missing Always Gallant’s standard of 1:33 4/5. The winner’s-circle celebration featured raised index fingers and roars loud enough to startle Bolulight, delaying the horse’s entrance into the enclosure.

Bolulight also backed up the prerace boasts of his jockey, Ron Hansen. After riding the gelding to victory in the Governor’s Handicap three weeks ago, Hansen greeted reporters with two words: “Hello Mile .”

During the week leading up to the Mile , he wondered if even outstanding performances from the race’s highweight Ibero and local favorite Time To Pass would be good enough to topple his horse. Both almost did.

Time To Pass grabbed a brief lead with 300 yards remaining but tired and wound up fourth. Ibero was carried five horses wide around the stretch turn by pacesetting Charmonnier, who finished a nose back of Ibero in third. “It cost me the race,” said Ibero’s jockey, Alex Solis, who came up from Del Mar for the mount. “That was the difference. The winner got through on the inside because of that, too.”

That Hansen was able to get his horse inside after breaking from the eleventh post position was almost as surprising as his horse’s placing entering the final turn. In each of his nine previous victories, Bolulight had led at that point. Yesterday, Hansen held him back so he could save ground on the rail instead of being outside five horses on the first turn. “I had planned on beating Ibero going wire-to-wire,” said Hansen, who rode four winners yesterday. “There were just too many horses for that spot, and I just said, `What the heck, I’ll take him back and see what happens.’ ”

Bolulight is basically a horse without a hoof. This prevents him from wearing normal shoes and causes abscesses to form on the underside of his foot. The constant pounding worsens the condition.

To ensure Bolulight’s feet would be fit, the Braichs had the horse’s blacksmith, Tom Wade, flown in eight days before the race.

By reconstructing the foot with material developed by NASA for space missions, Wade is able to direct Bolulight’s infections to the rear foot where they can be more easily treated. Two days before the Mile , abscesses did form.

Because Wade, considered one of the top blacksmiths in Northern California, was here, he was able to quickly take care of the infection.