Field set for 77th Longacres Mile
Awesome Gem, the morning line favorite at 5-2, drew the No. 3 spot for Sunday's race.
Special to The Seattle Times
AUBURN — Awesome Gem will start from an inside position Sunday as the 9-year-old gelding tries to become the oldest horse to win the Longacres Mile.
That's fine with Dennis and Lucinda Poppe of Issaquah, who are part of the syndicate that owns Awesome Gem.
Lucinda drew the No. 3 marker for Awesome Gem at Wednesday's selection of starting positions for the 77th running of the premier Thoroughbred race in the Northwest.
"We wanted number four, but three is close enough," said Lucinda.
Dennis said they did not want to race from the outside like last year, when Awesome Gem won from the No. 11 spot.
"He has won his biggest races from inside posts," Dennis said.
And as Thoroughbred racing's leading local active earner, he has won lots of them, racking up a record of 11 wins, 15 seconds, and six thirds in 51 starts, with $2,851,370 in winnings, making him the richest horse to race in Washington.
He's the morning-line favorite at 5-2, and David Flores will return to ride Awesome Gem in the $200,000 race.
Awesome Gem last raced June 30, finishing third in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.
Winning Machine seems to have the best chance of recapturing the Mile for a local horse. At 8-1 in the morning line, Winning Machine will start at No. 4. A win by the 6-year-old gelding would be the sixth in the past seven years by local horses.
Raymond Kwik of Spokane, who owns the horse with Paul Goldberg of Connecticut, said he was quietly optimistic about their chances in what he sees as one of the deepest fields ever in the Mile.
"You have to fear Awesome Gem and Gladding the most," Kwik said.
Gladding, who ships in from Southern California, starts at the No. 1 post, but has the speed to get past early traffic.
Taylor Said, starting at No. 10, will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, this year's winner in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.