AUBURN – It was 29 years ago that Chum Salmon won one of the greatest races in Washington state history, rallying from far back to beat a stellar field in the Longacres Mile.
Chum Salmon was not the betting favorite that day, going off at 8-1, but it seemed every fan was rooting for him during his stretch drive that afternoon at Longacres, the Renton racetrack that closed after the 1992 season.
Chum Salmon was trained by the husband-and-wife team of Larry and Sharon Ross, and they have their best chance since that day to again win the Northwest’s most prestigious race. The Rosses train Stryker Phd, the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s race that drew a full field of 12.
“We were lucky to have a horse as talented as Chum Salmon so early in our career,” Sharon Ross said after Stryker Phd, owned by Jim and Mona Hour, got post No. 9 in Wednesday’s post-position draw at Emerald Downs. “We’ve always said that Chum Salmon bought us our farm, and now maybe Stryker Phd can help us keep it.”
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It won’t be easy. Canada-based horses have won the past two Longacres Miles, and three horses who have been racing at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., have entered, including Title Contender, the third choice on the morning line at 9-2. That list doesn’t include Shooting Jacket, who was running at Hastings before running in stakes races at Emerald in his past two starts.
Both of those races, the Budweiser Handicap and the Mount Rainier Handicap, were won impressively by Stryker Phd, a 5-year-old gelding. His victory in the Budweiser stakes came after a break of 6½ months, following a year when Styrker Phd finished second in four Emerald Downs stakes races, including the Longacres Mile.
“The 5-year-old year should be good, especially after what he did as a 4-year-old, and he was working out easier and faster than he was last year,” Ross said. “The goal was to obviously be a contender in the big races and not run second again.”
His victory in the Mount Rainier Handicap was very impressive as he came from 11 lengths back to win in a stakes-record time. Stryker Phd was the only horse not near the early lead to win that day at Emerald on a surface that was heavily biased toward speed horses.
“That was impressive,” Ross said.
Stryker Phd will be ridden by Leslie Mawing, the leading jockey at Emerald Downs, and will carry the high weight of 121 pounds from the No. 9 post.
“Really, it doesn’t matter what post he has,” Ross said. “Nine is fine.”
’Debbie’s streak on the line
Stopshoppingdebbie, a 4-year-old filly, will look to remain undefeated when she runs in Sunday’s $65,000 Emerald Downs Distaff. With eight wins in eight tries, she has the most consecutive wins of any undefeated horse in North America.
Stopshoppingdebbie drew post No. 1. Two stablemates from trainer Tom Wenzel’s barn, Gointothewindow and Blueberry Smoothie, drew the No. 4 and No. 2 post positions.
Wando Woman, a Vancouver, B.C.-based horse who was second in this race last year, has post No. 5 in the five-horse field. She’s Stella Marie drew post No. 3.
• Wasserman, the 2008 Longacres Mile winner and a fan favorite for years at Emerald Downs, will have a retirement ceremony before the Mile on Sunday, and the 12-year-old will lead the horses in the post parade for the big race. Fans on Sunday will get Wasserman bobblehead dolls, the first bobblehead horse promotion at Emerald Downs.
|The 79th running of the Longacres Mile is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday at Emerald Downs.|
|1||Jebrica||Alex Bisono||Mike Puhich||116||15|
|2||Dontmesswithkitten||Rocco Bowen||Chris Stenslie||116||20|
|3||Prohibition||Isaias Enriquez||Mike Puhich||118||3|
|4||Twistgrips||Amadeo Perez||John Snow||115||20|
|5||Disruption||Eliska Kubinova||Monique Snowden||116||12|
|6||Boyett||Agapito Delgadillo||Mark Glatt||117||12|
|7||Title Contender||Rico Wolcott||Anita Bolton||121||9/2|
|8||Scat Daddybaby||Gallyn Mitchell||Robbie Baze||115||15|
|9||Stryker Phd||Leslie Mawing||Larry Ross||121||5/2|
|10||Mysterious Soul||Richard Hamel||Barbara Heads||116||15|
|11||Mr. Bowling||David G. Lopez||Mike Puhich||117||8|
|12||Shooting Jacket||Felipe Valdez||Dino Condilenios||115||20|
|Source: Emerald Downs|