A full 12-horse field, headlined by morning-line favorite Stryker Phd, was entered Wednesday for Sunday’s 79th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (Gr. 3) at Emerald Downs.
Stryker Phd, a dual stakes winner this year at the Auburn racetrack, was installed as the 5-2 favorite after receiving the No. 9 post position. The 5-year-old gelding will carry the 121-pound highweight and regular rider Leslie Mawing.
“I’m very happy with the post,” said Stryker Phd’s trainer Larry Ross, who saddled Chum Salmon to a Longacres Mile victory in 1985. “It looks like most of the speed is on the inside, so that’s good for us. He should be able to get into a good position. Being on the outside, Leslie can look in and monitor the pace.”
Stryker Phd rallied late to finish second in last year’s race, unable to reel in winner Herbie D.
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A 5-year-old Washington-bred son of Bertrando, Stryker Phd catapulted into the role of Longacres Mile favorite after his record-setting performance in the $50,000 Mount Rainier Handicap last month at Emerald Downs.
Stryker Phd, who also captured the 1-mile Budweiser Handicap in June, came from way off the pace to win the 11/16-mile Mount Rainier Handicap, stopping the clock in 1:40.20 to better the previous record (1:40.52) set last year by Herbie D.
“I think his racing schedule will be an advantage,” Ross said of his horse, which has finished in the money in 12 of 15 career starts with four victories. “They say third time out of the box is the peak race.”
If Stryker Phd is to parlay a Mount Rainier Handicap victory into a Longacres Mile win like Herbie D did last year, the gelding will have to fend off 11 challengers — including a trio of runners from the barn of Mike Puhich, who conditioned 2012 Mile winner Taylor Said.
Puhich will send Jebrica, Prohibition and Mr. Bowling into the stakes.
Jebrica, claimed Aug. 2 by Puhich and owner Mark Dedomenico for a track-record $50,000, will break against the rail. Alex Bisono will be in the irons. A dual stakes winner locally, Jebrica was named the Auburn track’s top 3-year-old in 2011.
Prohibition, second on the morning line at 3-1, was given post position No. 3 under jockey Isaias Enriquez, and Mr. Bowling, who finished off the board in last year’s Mile, breaks 11th from the rail.
Breaking outside will be the Dino Condilenios-trained Shooting Jacket, one of three horses along with Mysterious Soul and Title Contender shipping in from British Columbia.
Rounding out the field will be Dontmesswithkitten, Twistgrips, Disruption, Boyett and Scat Daddybaby.
The 79th edition of the Longacres Mile will go off as the seventh race at approximately 5:01 p.m.
Highlighting the undercard will be the $65,000 Emerald Distaff. A total of five older fillies and mares were entered into the 11/8-mile stakes. Undefeated Stopshoppingdebbie leads the field. The 4-year-old filly is a eight-for-eight lifetime and has more victories than any other undefeated horse in North America.