(Auburn, WA) The 86th running of the Longacres Mile is set for Sunday afternoon at Emerald Downs. The crown jewel of Northwest racing for decades looks to have one of it’s most competitive fields in several years from top to bottom. Not quite a full field but 11 are set to break from in front of the expected large crowd and less than 100 seconds one of these will make history.
This race always attracts the carpetbaggers swooping in from out of state and out of country to try and steal the local dollars but the locals have always put up a great fight and been successful more times than not in keeping the prize money and trophy local. How do our local connections set up for Sunday’s race? There are some truly local connections that are owned, trained and race at the Auburn oval, others that are here but ship in another horse from another track for this race and some local connections who want to be in the race and will go find a horse buy or claim it and bring them in. We have all three in tomorrow’s race.
Local Connection who needed to go find a Mile worthy horse
Owner John Parker and trainer Candi Cryderman have had massive success and Parker has been leading owner several seasons. There is no one more local or supportive than Parker of Emerald Downs. He makes no bones about it that EmD is his home track. With a large stable parker recently took-over the lead for wins and earnings in the owners standings but his stable did not have what he felt was a legitimate Mile horse. Parker did win the Mile in 2017 with Gold Rush Dancer but he shipped in from Parker’s California stable led by trainer Vann Belvoir.
This year Parker went looking for a solid candidate and he and Cryderman believe they found one in Forest Fire. Forest Fire has won multiple stakes mostly in Pennsylvania where Parker claimed him for $35,000. Forest Fire may have caught Parker’s eye due to his success at the mile distance 4-1-0 from 7 starts. Being a longshot also does not bother him with 5 of his 10 wins ranging between 8-1 and 24-1. Forest Fire’s career numbers are 10-3-2 from 28 starts and a career earnings of just shy of $380,000. Erick Lopez, a former Emerald Downs jockey will come back to ride Forest Fire.
Local Owner/Trainer Connections but Horse is shipping in
Bob Rondeau is best known as the voice of the University of Washington Husky football and Men’s basketball teams for more than 30 years. Bob also called many other area events including several broadcasts of the Mile from both Longacres and Emerald Downs. Rondeau has dabbled for years in the racing business as an owner and since his retirement from broadcasting has dipped his toe back in the racing game. He and his wife Molly are Giddyup Stables and own Background. They have veteran trainer Mike Puhich in charge and Puhich has a Longacres Mile victory in his back pocket winning the 2012 with Taylor Said. That was for the large North American Thoroughbred conglomerate and he’d love nothing more than to hold that trophy a 2nd time for true Washingtonians the Rondeau’s.
Background’s career numbers are 3-2-4 from 13 lifetime starts and has racked up $135,000 in earnings. Former leading rider at Emerald Downs, Rocco Bowen is coming back to ride Background. Bowen has ridden Background the past 6 races with 2 wins, 2 2nds and a 3rd and will be looking for his 1st win in the Mile.
Local Horse not total local connections
This is a tough category to name as the owners aren’t really local but their horse has been running here and in both cases have the ability to surprise so this is the gray area of having a local horse but not all the connections are truly locals.
Up first is Unmachable. Unmachable broke his maiden here and has run 10 of his career 13 races in Auburn. He has 3 Stakes win to his credit at winning the Juvenile in 2019 and taking the Seattle Slew and the Muckleshoot Tribal Classic last season and more recently finishing 4th in the Bud and 2nd in the Governors Stakes. He has earned nearly $135,000 and has a 4-5-2 record from 13 starts and his other 2 finishes were 4th so Unmachable has never not been part of the winning superfecta bets in all of his races.
Unmachable races for Idaho native Tawnja Elison who has had a lot of success and ran many horses in Boise and other tracks before being here at Emerald Downs for the past couple of seasons. Her trainer Jack McCartney also has been all over and has settled in Auburn for the past few summers and both would love to add the Mile trophy to their Washington trophy shelf. They will have an experienced pilot in Javier Matias who won the 2018 Longacres Mile on Barkley.
The other horse is Windribbon owned by the Seamist Stable which is Michael Dadasovich from Lafayette, California in Northern Cal. Dadasovich has had several horses run in Golden Gate and the Fair circuit but Windribbon who began his career at Golden Gate has been at Emerald Downs since last season. His last 7 races have been in Auburn or more than half of his 13 lifetime starts. Certainly, there is no doubt that trainer Blaine Wright is a local as he was raised in the family business based in Washington.
Windribbon will likely be part of a heated front end battle in this race and has a career 4-2-3 from those 13 starts records earning more than $77,000. He has proven to love Emerald with a 3-2-2 record from his 7 starts, never missing the trifecta. Kevin Orozco ships in to ride Windribbon.
Local, Local, Local!
There are 3 horses that are truly locally connected from top to bottom. Let’s start with Papa’s Golden Boy owned by Gary, Deborah, Jeff and Peyton Lusk from Puyallup and trained by Vince Gibson. Papa will be ridden by Julien Couton. We just did a big story on the Lusk’s and Papa’s Golden Boy and you can click this link to read more about this amazing group.
The next one is Hard to Deny owned by the One Horse Will Do Corp who is Jody Peetz and Chris Stenslie, Stenslie also trains Hard to Deny. The duo bought Hard to Deny at the Septemeber Keeneland auction for $47,000 and so far he has collected about $53,000 in earnings. Hard to Deny got off to a slow start breaking his maiden on his 4th try and then held winless for 8 straight races. It was beginning to look like Hard to Deny was going to be a solid claimer and not much more but he has suddenly figured this all out and comes in on a 2 race win streak. He is now 3-3-1 from 14 lifetime starts. Yes, it was in allowance company but he fresh off beating multiple stakes winner Unmachable in his last outing. Both of those races were at the mile distance. 2020 Champion jockey and current leading rider Alex Cruz will get the ride with local pride on the line.
You can’t get more Northwest than the connections of Muncey. Muncey is owned by the Rising Star VII stable which is run by Vicki Potter who is also a long time Emerald Down employee. Her longtime significant other is trainer Howard Belvoir who has 3 Longacres Mile championships under his belt one with Rising Star when Barkley won in 2018 and then one for Tice Ranch Stables in 2009 when Assessment won it and when he bred, owned and trained Wasserman in 2008.
Jennifer Whitaker, the all-time leading female rider at Emerald Downs with well more than 500 wins will get the ride on Muncey. Muncey is 2-2-5 from 15 starts all at Emerald Downs and is a hard trier. It will certainly be an upset if Muncey can pull it off but wouldn’t be a big surprise if he hit the board. He is a Stakes winner taking the 2019 Lads but has finished out of the money in his last 3 starts and will need to turn it around in the Mile.