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Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo: Noosa Beach (center) defends his Longacres Mile championship on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011
Reed Palmer/Emerald Downs Photo: Noosa Beach (center) defends his Longacres Mile championship on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011

This coming Sunday is the 76th running of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, the premier race on the Pacific Northwest racing calendar. Noosa Beach will seek his second consecutive win and would join only two other horses to accomplish that feat in the race's history (Trooper Seven -1980/1981, and Simply Majestic - 1988/1989).  Noosa Beach is the reigning Washington state Horse of the Year and one of the best horses in the state's history.  If he successfully defends his Mile title in 2011 it is likely that his connections will point him towards a place in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs this November.

The Longacres Mile was first run in 1935 at the since torn-down Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Washington. After Longacres was closed in 1992 the Mile was run for three years at Yakima Meadows in Yakima, Washington.  The MIle returned to Western Washington in 1996 with the opening of Emerald Downs in Auburn.

Emerald Downs, despite dealing with the same issues that many tracks are facing around the country, is having a much more positive meet than in recent years.  According to a story in The Seattle Times a week ago, handle is up roughly 1% and attendance is up approximately 11.5%. (Seattle Times: Emerald Downs bucks national racing trends) Hopefully this Sunday's card will build on the progress that has occurred this meeting.

Last Friday Emerald Downs Director of Racing Brett Anderson released the assigned weights for all horses nominated to this year's Mile with Noosa Beach leading the potential field at 125 pounds.  The last horse to carry 125 or more in the Mile was 1983 winner Chinook Pass. The weights of all nominated horses appears at the bottom of this post.

Awesome Gem was nominated to the Mile but is not expected to run. (As noted in the comments, it sounds like Awesome Gem is now likely to run.  Definitely good news.) (UPDATE #2: Awesome Gem arrives at Emerald on Wednesday.)

I'll be out at Emerald Downs for the post position draw on Wednesday (11am), as well as spending all-day Sunday at the track.

Assigned weights:

125 Noosa Beach
122 Awesome Gem
122 Our Nautique (NZ)
121 Indian Firewater
120 St Liams Halo
119 Run It
119 Slew the Man
118 Crew Leader
118 Dahoud (NZ)
118 Kevlar Kid
117 Almost Time
117 Assessment
117 Honour the Deputy
117 Rooster City
117 Spurrier
117 Winning Machine
116 Cherokee Notion
116 Don’twaitforme
116 Hollywood Harbor
116 Saratoga Boot
116 Whatsthescript (IRE)
115 Davos
115 Posse Power
114 J P Jammer
114 Our Minesweeper
114 Price
112 Seven Torrents
112 Wasserman