Herbie D left no doubt who was the best horse Sunday at Emerald Downs.
Under a flawless ride by Amadeo Perez at 121 lbs, Herbie D overcame the No. 10 post-position and rolled to a 1 ½-length victory over Stryker Phd in the 78th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) for 3-year-olds and up.
A 5-year-old British Columbia-bred gelding by Orchid’s Devil-Chilli Chines, Herbie D ran one mile in 1:35.12 and paid $6.80, $4.40 and $3.20.
Trained by Robert Gilker for owners George Robbins of Cobble Hill, B.C. and Darcia Doman of Cowichan Bay, B.C., Herbie D became the second straight B.C.-bred to win the Mile.
Herbie D is 2-for-2 at Emerald Downs and 10-1-1 in 13 career starts with earnings of $337,928, including $110,000 for Sunday’s win.
Hustled to the lead and angled to the rail, Herbie D set fractions of :22.71, :45.04, 1:09.01 and 1:21.71, and held off Stryker Phd and Golden Itiz for the victory.
In firm control throughout, Herbie D led by at least one length at every call, and spurted to a decisive two-length lead into the stretch. He was never seriously threatened in the run to the wire.
“I listened to the trainer’s instructions and he told me that the plan was to go to the front,” Perez said through an interpreter. “I went to the front and never looked back. I could hear horses coming from the back, but all I was thinking was, ‘where is the wire?’ This is the best race I’ve ever won. I am very happy right now.”
Herbie D has won eight of his last nine races, including four stakes at Hastings and the July 21 Mt. Rainier Handicap at Emerald Downs, in which he scored an easy gate-to-wire victory at 1 1/16 miles and earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
Stryker Phd, ridden by Debbie Hoonan at 116 lbs, rallied from 11th in the 12-horse field and edged Golden Itiz for second place by a head. Off at odds of 15-to-1, Stryker Phd paid $11.20 and $5.40, and continued his improbable story that has seen the 4-year-old Washington-bred finish second in all four stakes for older horses this season at Emerald Downs.
“He settled really nicely for me,” Hoonan said. “He got right into his groove. I really didn’t have to do too much. He was really focused.
“He never would let (Golden Itiz) go by him. I could here him grunting. He was trying so hard. When we got into the clear, I thought I had a good shot at the win. I knew the leader would be pretty tough to catch. I was thinking that third would be good, but it was even better when we got second.”
Trained by Margo Lloyd for Jim and Mona Hour of Bellevue, Stryker Phd—still a non-winner of two races—earned $40,000 for finishing second.
Golden Itiz, with Gerry Olguin riding at 118, also finished well to take third and paid $6.20 for show.
Jebrica, from the barn of five-time Longacres Mile-winning trainer Jim Penney, finished fourth, and was followed by Gladding, Why Not Be Perfect, Until You, Tres Borrachos, Politicallycorrect, Winning Machine, Mr. Bowling and Hoist.
Politicallycorrect, the 9-to-5 betting favorite ridden by Hall of Famer Russell Baze, never got seriously involved in the race and finished ninth.
“My horse got hit from behind before we got into the first turn and he just dropped the bit,” Baze said. “I tried to get him involved on the backside, but he just wasn’t having any of it. He didn’t give me anything. It’s great to be here for another Mile. It would have been a lot better if I had won it.”
NOTES: Sunday's handle of $2,817,486 on the 11-race card was up over $400,000 from last year's Mile day...Rocky’s Quest ($4.40) won the $22,575 Pete Pedersen Memorial in 1:36.20 under Juan Gutierrez for trainer Blaine Wright and owners John & Janene Maryanski. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, Rocky’s Quest is 8-for-20 lifetime and 7-for-15 at Emerald Downs…Former Longacres Mile winners No Giveaway (2005), Flamethrowintexan (2006), The Great Face (2007) and Wasserman (2008) all paraded on the track before the fourth race…Smart Copy ($10.80) won the Mark Kaufman Memorial Purse named in honor of the late great director of publicity at Longacres…Isaias Enriquez and Juan Gutierrez continue to slug it out atop the riders’ standings. They each rode two winners Sunday, and Enriquez leads Gutierrez 80-77 with 19 days remaining in the 2013 season…Frank Lucarelli saddled two winners and leads Jeff Metz 35-32 in the trainers’ standings…Metz also had a big day, saddling E Z Kitty ($9) to a runaway victory in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff…Live racing resumes Friday with first post 6:45 p.m.