AUBURN — A huge question loomed over the 85th Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs: Would favored Anothertwistafate be ready, having not raced since a 10th-place finish in the Preakness Stakes?
The answer Thursday night in the $100,000 Grade III race was an emphatic yes, yes, yes.
Anothertwistafate confronted early leader Papa’s Golden Boy at the top of the stretch, quickly built a big lead and from that point the only question was margin of victory.
Anothertwistafate won by 4 1/2 lengths, giving trainer Blaine Wright his first victory in the Longacres Mile, the signature horse race in the Northwest for decades.
Wright had horses in the Mile finish second each of the past two years, and last year’s loss was especially tough as the heavily favored Anyportinastorm was caught at the wire and lost by a head.
“A lot of people have asked me if he’s the best horse I’ve trained,” Wright said of Anothertwistafate. “I don’t know, but he’s got so much natural raw talent.”
That was on full display Thursday night, even if didn’t seem like a sure thing beforehand.
That’s because while Anothertwistafate had been putting up one good workout after another in Northern California, you never know for sure how a horse is going to perform after a long layoff.
No horse had won the Longacres Mile without having had a prior race in the calendar year, but despite that history, owner Peter Redekop elected to run Anothertwistafate in the race instead of Anyportinastorm.
“He felt like (Anothertwistafate) would give him his best shot,” said Wright, 46, who got his start in the business working for father Richard, a trainer at Longacres in Renton. “I’d have to say I am pretty happy with that decision right now.”
Local Juan Gutierrez rode the winner. Wright said when he was unable to bring in a rider from California, “there was no hesitation who I wanted to get for (Anothertwistafate).”
“I thought (Gutierrez) would fit this horse because he is such a good speed rider at this track,” Wright said.
The winner paid $4.40 to win and he ran the mile in 1 minute, 34.10 seconds. British Columbia invader Five Star General was second. Press, a 46-1 longshot, was third. Elliott Bay, the top local hope, was fourth.
The race was held on a Thursday night and without fans for the first time.
Alittlelesstalk wins the Emerald Distaff
Alittlelesstalk rallied along the rail in the stretch, passing favored Killarney Lass late to win the 40,000 Emerald Distaff, the championship race of the season for older fillies and mares.
Alittlelesstalk was beaten by 6 lengths last month in the Boeing Stakes, but that race was at 6 1/2 furlongs. The Distaff was 1 1/16 miles, and the extra quarter-mile suited Alittlelesstalk just fine, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Paddy’s Secret, who was a head in front of Killarney Lass.
The winner paid $9 to win and the winning time was 1 minute, 42.41 seconds.