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The Great Face wins Longacres Mile
By CASEY OLSON
The Great Face answered all the questions by winning the 72nd running of the $400,000 Longacres Mile presented by TVG in wire-to-wire fashion across a wet and sloppy track at Emerald Downs Sunday afternoon.
The victory gave owner and track president Ron Crockett his first Longacres Mile victory.
This feels absolutely great, Crockett said. This is the highlight of my career, which started in 1974.
It was also the first victory for trainer Tom Wenzel, who conditioned the gelding to a victory in the Mt. Rainier Handicap July 29.
The Mile day event was also a winner for Emerald Downs, which set a single day track record handle of $3,191,831. The previous record was $3,037,581 set on Aug. 24, 2003 Longacres Mile day. The day didn't quite outdo the Washington state record, which was set on the last day at Tukwila's Longacres track Oct. 21, 1992, when fans bet $3,339,087.
The amount bet on the Mile was $691,065, off the pace of the $703,963 bet on the Mile in 2004, another Washington state record.
As owner of both the first- and second-place finishers, Crockett won $300,000 of the purse money.
The Great Face, a 5-year-old Washingtonbred son of Cahill Road, broke from the one-hole after a rain soaked day. The rain showers held off as the gates opened and The Great Face went to the lead by the quarter-mile mark setting fractions of 23 3/5 seconds and 46 2/5 for the half mile.
I didn't think we'd get away that easy, Wenzel said. I was surprised.
Diligent Prospect, ridden by Wilson Dieguez, pressured The Great Face on the backstretch, but the gelding never gave way.
California invaders Sinister Minister, ridden by Clinton Potts, and Trickey Trevor, with Russell Baze aboard, broke poorly and never presented a challenge. Both horses had graded stakes victories on their resume.
My horse hopped at the start, Baze said. If he had broke sharply he'd of run a lot better race.
Potts said his horse went straight in the air when the gates opened and lost all chances.
Raise the Bluff with Tyler Baze in the irons, Crockett's second of three entries in the race, came from off the pace and nearly snatched the race away from The Great Face, who held on for the win by a head in 1:35 2/5.
We got a little unlucky, Tyler Baze said. He's an awesome horse to ride.
Baze objected to the stewards after the race concerning bumping between The Great Face and Raise the Bluff. The stewards ruled the bumping was not significant enough to change the order of finish.
I thought there was some slight bumping, Wenzel said. But I thought we were OK.
The Great Face brought in $13.40, $7.20 and $5.60 for the win. Raise the Bluff finished second returning $4.20 and $3.20. Wasserman, also a Washington-bred, rang up $8.40 for third.
Schoolin You ran fourth followed by Gotaghostofachance, Trickey Trevor, Norm's Nephew, Sinister Minister, Diligent Prospect, Don'twritemeoff, Wanna Runner and Courting Runner.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org