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AUBURN — Chalk up another win for Canada.

Herbie D, an invader from Vancouver B.C., cruised early and was flying late while winning the $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap in front of a packed house Sunday at Emerald Downs.

With the 2¾-length victory over Stryker Phd in the 11
/
16 -mile race, Herbie D, a 5-year-old gelding, stamped himself as one of the top contenders in the Aug. 18 $200,000 Longacres Mile, the most prestigious horse race in the Northwest.

Robert Gilker, Herbie D’s trainer, said the plan is to bring the horse back to Auburn for that race. Last year, Canadian invader Taylor Said won the Longacres Mile, continuing a string of good performances here by Canadian invaders in the big races.

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“We skipped a $75,000 race at home, just to get a test of the track,” Gilker said. “We wanted an excuse to run in the Mile, and he just gave us a good excuse.”

Herbie D was the favorite and paid $6.20 to win. Morning-line favorite Tres Borrachos, the California invader with earnings of $1.03 million, finished fifth.

The race was pretty much over after a quarter of a mile. Herbie D set relatively slow early fractions while on the lead, so when the closers started rallying, he had more than enough energy left to hold them off. Stryker Phd made the biggest move, but was no threat to the winner, who won for the ninth time in 12 starts, with all of his previous races coming in Canada.

Gilker said he was surprised his horse was able to get such an early lead.

“I thought Winning Machine would be right up there with us,” he said.

That didn’t happen, and jockey Amadeo Perez had Herbie D running free on the lead down the backstretch. No horse ever got close as his closing fractions were very fast.

“He’s a special little horse,” Gilker said.

Jebrica, winner of last month’s Budweiser Handicap, finished third. Winning Machine was fourth.

Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943