Noosa Beach wins Seattle Handicap at Emerald Downs | Horse Racing

Noosa Beach delivered one of the most spectacular performances in Emerald Downs history Sunday with a one-length victory over stable-mate Winning Machine in the $50,000 Seattle Handicap for older horses.

In becoming the first 4-year-old in a dozen years to win the annual kickoff to the Longacres Mile, Noosa Beach was timed in 1 minute, 7 seconds to equal the track and state record set by Atta Boy Roy last September in the Chinook Pass Sprint.

Ridden by Ricky Frazier at 118 pounds, Noosa Beach is 6-for-6 in sprints and paid $11.40, $5.20 and $3.20.

Winning Machine, ridden by Francisco Duran at 119 pounds completed a one-two finish for trainer Doris Harwood, with a strong second-place effort and paid $8.40 and $4.80. Harwood’s achievement was notable since the field, which included the last two winners of the Longacres Mile, was widely acclaimed among the strongest in the 72-year history of the Seattle Handicap.

Peaceful Reign, co-favored at 2-1, ran a dead heat with early pace-rival Kruger Park for third place. Ridden by Julio Garcia at 118 pounds, Peaceful Reign paid $2.60, while defending Seattle Handicap champion Kruger Park, ridden by Inoel Beato at 117 lbs., paid $3.20.

Assessment, the slight favorite in the wagering, finished fifth in his first start since his victory in last year’s Longacres Mile. The 2009 Horse of the Meeting had a wide trip and was beaten five lengths by Noosa Beach.

Wasserman, the 2008 Mile winner, finished eighth and remained $3,973 short of Captain Condo’s record of $503,285 earned at Washington racetracks.

The day belonged to relative youngsters as the four 4-year-olds—Noosa Beach, Winning Machine, Peaceful Reign and Rooster City finished first, second, third (dead heat) and seventh.

Noosa Beach stalked as Peaceful Reign and Kruger Park dueled for the lead in fractions of 21 4/5 and 44 1/5. The winner pounced in the lane, reaching the front past mid stretch and proving clearly best.

“The race really unfolded the way I saw it on paper,” Frazier said. “I had so much horse and I didn’t want to move too soon. When we got the lead, I kept waiting and waiting for someone to come. When nobody came, I started to get really excited. Noosa Beach was a different horse today then he was in his last race. He was easily five lengths better in this race.”

Duran said Winning Machine ran a winning race, but Noosa Beach was just too good.

“I knew there was a lot of speed, so I wanted to sit behind the leaders,” he said. “I had a good trip, except it got a little tight the last eighth of a mile. I thought I was a winner for sure, but it was one of those days where there was a better horse in the race.”

Bred and owned by Jeff Harwood of Kent, Noosa Beach has a 6-2-2 mark in 11 starts with earnings of $179,340, including $27,500 earned in the Seattle.

Doris Harwood, the owner’s wife, continues her relentless march toward becoming Emerald Downs’ all-time leading stakes trainer. With 41 stakes wins, including 32 since 2007, she is just one shy of Bud Klokstad’s track record of 42.

Frazier continues his nip-and-tick battle with Mitchell for honors as the track’s leading stakes rider. Sunday’s result left the veterans tied at 63 stakes wins each.

As for Assessment, Mitchell said the 6-year-old gelding ran fairly well considering it was his first race since undergoing ankle surgery in September.

“In the post parade he was as a happy as can be,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to give him a nice clean trip. He was a little wider than I wanted, but it was no problem. When I made my move, I saw Noosa Beach take off and Assessment started to get tired. Every horse that beat him today had a race under his or her belts. I had a feeling he’d need a race.”

Juan Gutierrez rode four winners on the 10-race card. The first jockey to accomplish the feat at the 18-day-old meet, and finished the week with a 19-17 lead over Mitchell and Frazier in the jockeys’ standings. Mitchell and Frazier rode two winners each Sunday.

Jim Penney and Vann Belvoir are tied for leading trainer with 13 wins each.

News and Notes

• The remarkable West Seattle Boy ($6.60) tied the all-time track record of 16 wins with a head victory over Yasou in the third race at one mile. The 11-year-old gelding is now tied with Bob Stories and Market Master, and figures to have several chances to move into sole possession of first place. Bred by the late Al Benton, West Seattle Boy has a 16-for-74 mark at Emerald Downs and is 20-for-89 overall. Owned by Lisa Baze and Jerry Carmody, trained by Rigoberto Velasquez and ridden by Gallyn Mitchell, West Seattle Boy ran one mile in 1:37 and upped his earnings to $156,845.

•Velasquez had the knack with the veterans Sunday, as 9-year-old Polo Bender ($7.60) won his second straight and his ninth at Emerald Downs with a three-length score in the fifth race. The 9-year-old Washington-bred is 19-for-50 overall, meaning the two Velasquez winners has a combined 39 career victories.

• Five of the 10 winners reached double digits topped by a $30.80 mutuel courtesy of Free as Can Be in the fourth race. It marked the eighth time jockey Troy Stillwell and trainer Charles Essex combined for a victory this season.

• Live racing resumes 6 p.m. Friday. Emerald Downs is open for simulcast Wednesday through Sunday.

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