August 16, 2009 in Sports

Longacres Mile has home-track advantage

Scott Hanson Seattle Times

AUBURN, Wash. – The story line seems the same every year at the Longacres Mile.

The big-name shippers come in from California and Canada, figuring to take advantage of weaker foes in the Northwest’s most prestigious race.

A shipper is almost always favored, and that will likely be the case again today in the 74th running of the Grade III, $300,000 race at Emerald Downs.

California-based Awesome Gem is the 2-1 morning-line favorite and Sierra Sunset is the 7-2 second choice.

But the local horses, and long-shot bettors, need not despair. The home-course advantage is nothing to take lightly.

Look no further than defending champion Wasserman, the locally-based Washington-bred that won last year’s race at 10-1.

In 2008, it was The Great Face holding off favored invader Raise the Bluff. In 2007, Southern California star Papi Chullo tried the entire stretch to get past local favorite Flamethrowintexan and finished a neck short. Then there was No Giveaway winning at 60-1 in 2005 while shippers Harvard Avenue and Adreamsiborn settled for fourth and fifth.

Today’s race features five locally based horses, five from California and two from Canada.

Perhaps no one wants to win this race more than Federal Way’s Carlos Moreno, who trains Kruger Park. He claimed the horse in Southern California this spring for $50,000, with his sole focus being today’s race. Along the way, he won the first two stakes for older males at this season’s Emerald meet, then lost at a mile in his last race.

“He is training fantastic,” Moreno said. Kruger Park is 20-1 on the morning line.

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