A field of 11 thoroughbreds, including defending champion Awesome Gem and 2009 winner Assessment, will break from the gate in the 77th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Grade III) on Sunday at Emerald Downs.
Awesome Gem, the richest active runner in North America with $2,851,370 in earnings, will carry the 123-pound highweight and jockey David Flores in the stakes race as the 9-year-old attempts to join Trooper Seven (1980-81) and Simply Majestic (1988-89) as the race’s only back-to-back winners.
Trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem received post position No. 3.
Awesome Gem, winner of the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup in 2010, broke from post No. 11 and defeated 2010 winner Noosa Beach to win last year’s edition of the Mile. The gelding is 3-1-0 in four career starts at the distance, with his lone second-place performance coming in the 2009 Mile.
“He’s training wonderfully going into the race,” Dollase said of Awesome Gem, the 5-2 morning-line favorite. “He’s probably as good or better than last year. He’s a gem, that’s for sure.”
Awesome Gem and Gladding, the second choice at 3-to-1, are scheduled to ship together from Del Mar in Southern California today and arrive at Emerald Downs early Friday morning.
Juan Hernandez, who rode the John Sadler-trained Gladding to a win in the 1 1/16-mile Alamedan Handicap at Pleasanton, Calif., receives the mount. The duo will break against the rail.
The Keith Nations-conditioned Bailouttheminister breaks eighth from the rail under jockey Russell Baze, who has guided three Mile winners during his Hall of Fame career.
Bailouttheminister, a 4-year-old California-bred, ships in from Northern California. The son of Ministers Wild Cat won the Sam J. Whiting Handicap at Pleasanton, covering the 6 furlongs in 1 minute, 9 seconds and earning a career-high 98 Beyer in just his second career start on dirt.
“The horse just keeps getting better and better,” Nations said. “He’s probably a better sprinter, but his style should be great for the Longacres Mile.”
Owner Glen Todd will run both Taylor Said and St Liams Halo, who was scratched last time out because of a minor foot injury.
In the irons for Taylor Said will be Mario Gutierrez, who rode I’ll Have Another to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year. St Liams Halo will be ridden by Leslie Mawing, the leading rider at Emerald Downs in 2011.