AUBURN, WA - There was a little bit of drama at Emerald Downs this afternoon during the post position draw for the 76th running of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile. (Post time 5:53pm Pacific; TV: TVG/CSNW) Defending champion Noosa Beach, widely expected to be the post time favorite, and Awesome Gem, the winner of the 2010 Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, ended up drawing the two widest positions in the starting gate - posts 11 and 12.
Given the short run into the first turn for mile races at Emerald Downs, those are probably the two worst post positions a horse can get for this race (although the draw probably impacts Noosa Beach more than Awesome Gem). The California shipper prefers to do most of his running from off the pace, which should allow him to take back early in order to avoid being caught wide into the first turn. Nossa Beach prefers to be up front and may have to use more energy in order to secure a favorable position early on.
To Noosa Beach's credit, he's been a pretty versatile horse during his career. He's won races on the lead, pressing the pace, and sitting two or three lengths back in the first quarter mile (as he did in the Bud Handicap on June 19th). While the 11-hole isn't the best spot to be in, Noosa Beach has proven to be adaptable in prior races and still has the ability to run a big. But it's a little more challenging after the draw.
Despite the draw, Noosa Beach and Awesome Gem are the top two choices on the morning line at 2/1 and 5/2.
The field for the 76th Longacres Mile:
|St. Liams Halo
|Honour the Deputy
|J P Jammer
|Slew the Man