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$50K Budweiser matches star-studded field

June 17, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Route features defending champ Assessment
By Vince Bruun, Emerald Downs

Gifted 4-year-olds Noosa Beach and Winning Machine will attempt to dethrone defending champ Assessment Sunday in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap for older handicap stars at Emerald Downs. The one-mile event features a nine-horse field and is the second leg and first route leading up to the 75th running of the $250,000 Longacres Mile (GIII) on Aug. 22.

Noosa Beach (11-6-2-2-$179,340) hasn't missed a beat for trainer Doris Harwood to start his 4-year-old campaign, going 2-for-2 including a one-length victory in the Seattle Handicap on May 16. The Washington-bred gelding's winning time of 1:07 tied Atta Boy Roy's track and state record at the six-furlong distance, and he again finished ahead of stable mate and Seattle runner-up Winning Machine. However, Noosa Beach has yet to win a race around two-turns*he's 6-for-6 sprinting, but 0-for-5 routing*and will break from the No. 1 post with Ricky Frazier riding at 119 lbs. The rail, incidentally, has produced 11 wins in 39 races this season at Emerald Downs.

"I never thought that Noosa Beach couldn't go long," Harwood said. "I'm going to let Ricky (Frazier) decide what to in the race, but I don't expect it to be an easy race to win."

Hot on Noosa Beach's tail is stablemate Winning Machine (15-5-4-2-$288,151), who has rallied to finish second behind Noosa Beach twice this season, including the Seattle Handicap. Noosa Beach has beaten Winning Machine six times in eight career tries, but the Kentucky-bred gelding Winning Machine has the route-advantage with three victories around two-turns.

"I could see them running one-two, but I don't know who would win," Harwood said. "It's the best problem to have."

Winning Machine drew the No. 9 post with Francisco Duran up at 119 lbs.

Defending Horse of the Meeting Assessment (26-7-4-3-$357,230) won't give up his crown without a fight, as the 6-year-old gelding seeks his first victory since capturing the 2009 Longacres Mile. Assigned high weight of 120 lbs., Assessment should improve for trainer Howard Belvoir after a fifth-place finish in the Seattle Handicap. In his return from a nine-month layoff, Assessment raced from off the pace and ran evenly late.

Belvoir said he was happy with Assessment's race, especially considering the gelding's wide trip and the fact most of his opponents had a race under their belts.

"I thought his race went great," Belvoir said. "He was tired, but what he really showed me was that he didn't give up."

Belvoir will also send out local-favorite and 2008 Longacres Mile winner Wasserman, who needs a third-place finish or better to break Captain Condo's record of $503,285 and become the all-time money earner at Washington racetracks. The 8-year-old gelding has finished fifth and eight in two sprints this season.
KJR Sports Radio 950 will air live coverage of the Budweiser Handicap from 4-5 p.m. Mike Gastineau anchors the broadcast which will feature Robert Geller's call of the race.

The field from the rail out:
Post Horse            Jockey          Weight
1 Noosa Beach Ricky Frazier 119
2 Yankee Bravo Anne Von Rosen 114
3 Rooster City Seth Martinez 118
4 Elusive Schemes Pedro Terrero 114
5 Assessment Gallyn Mitchell 120
6 Wasserman Jennifer Whitaker 116
7 Gallon Juan Gutierrez 115
8 Peaceful Reign Kevin Krigger 117
9 Winning Machine Francisco Duran 119