By Jack Shinar, Blood-Horse
Red-hot Taylor Said, back in action just 13 days after setting a track record at Hastings Racecourse, held off Winning Machine in the final strides Aug. 19 to capture the $200,000 Longacres Miles (gr. III) by a head in the signature race at Emerald Downs.
Mario Gutierrez, who achieved stardom with his unlikely victories aboard I'll Have Another in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, rode Taylor Said to victory. The winning trainer, Michael Puhich, is the nephew of Gutierrez's agent, Ivan Puhich. Gutierrez is currently based at Hastings.
Michael Puhich conditions Taylor Said for the North American Thoroughbred Horse Company. This was the first Longacres Mile win for all of the connections.
Taylor Said, a 4-year-old gelding by Stephanotis out of Fleet Amyanne, by Western Fame, earned his sixth consecutive victory. He completed the one-mile distance in a sizzling 1:33.79, slightly off the track record of 1:33 flat set by Sky Jack in winning the Longacres Mile in 2003.
Winning Machine finished second by 1 1/2 lengths over the late-running 2-1 favorite Awesome Gem, who rallied along the inside from sixth while attempting to repeat his victory of a year ago in the Longacres Mile. Awesome Gem, a grade I winner and earner of more than $2.85 million, was the 123-pound high weight in the field of 10. Taylor Special, the second choice at 5-2 odds, toted 122.
Clive Lytle, Linda Lytle, and Can-A-Mex Farms bred the winning dark bay in British Columbia. Taylor Said is reportedly the first since Silver Double in 1970 to win the Longacres Mile after making his most recent start in Canada. In that start, the British Columbia Cup Classic Aug. 6, Taylor Said won by 6 1/4 lengths while timed in 1:47 4/5 for 1 1/8 miles.
Winning Machine, with Javier Matias aboard, set the pace in the Longacres Mile while narrowly leading Hudson Landing and Taylor Said. Posted quarter mile splits were :23.70, :46.38, and 1:09.30. Hudson Landing, between horses, quickly gave way at the quarter pole and the race was down to two horses in the stretch. Winning Machine stubbornly dug in on the front end and continued to fight on when headed at the furlong mark by Taylor Said, who raced wide throughout. Winning Machine was tenacious to the end, but Taylor Said prevailed in a hard-fought finish.
Awesome Gem, ridden by David Flores, finished willingly after checking at the three-eighths pole and showing little speed early on.
The outcome of the race was affected by the scratch of Gladding, who came down with a fever and was withdrawn by trainer John Sadler. The Southern California-based Gladding was expected to be a major pace factor and contender.
Taylor Said has won stakes races in his past five starts as part of a winning streak that began with an allowance win in February at Golden Gate Fields. Taylor Said has seven wins and two seconds from 10 lifetime starts with earnings of $277,991.
He paid $7.20, $4.60, $3.20. Winning Machine, looking to give longtime Washington trainer Frank Lucarelli, his first win in the Longacres Mile, returned $8 and $4.40. The exacta was worth $54. Awesome Gem paid $3.20 to show.
Puhich also saddled fourth-place finisher St Liams Halo. Then came Bailouttheminister, Jump up and Kissme, Gallant Son, Jebrica, Hudson Landing, and Assessment.
For an Equibase chart, click here.