Sports

Riches to be had at Emerald Downs

The biggest, richest horse race in our state takes place Aug. 16 at Emerald Downs in Auburn when horses compete for $300,000 in the Longacres Mile, a grade III race.

The racing plant will be jammed for the premiere event of the racing card but there's much more before the big race in August.

Mile Preview Day is July 26 and it's always the big highlight of the calendar designed to allow horses a final prep race for the Mile.

The $50,000 Mount Rainier Handicap has become the second-biggest race of the year. Last year Chhaya Dance edged Wasserman in the 1 1/8-mile race, but the effort set up Wasserman perfectly for his dramatic victory three weeks later in the Mile.

In 2007, The Great Face romped to a 2.75-mile length win in the Mount Rainier before scoring in the Mile and, in 2006, Flamethrowintexan also parlayed a Mount Rainier win into a Longacres Mile victory.

July 26 also features the $50,000 Boeing Handicap for fillies and mares. That race will be the stepping stone for the $100,000 Emerald Distaff, also run on Longacres Mile day.



The mile

What is it like on Mile Day? It's like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes all rolled into one giant day in our state as horse players flock to the track to witness the feature race of the day.

I've been there for many Miles, but the last two have been spectacular.

In 2007, The Great Face won the 72nd running and became the 17th gate-to-wire winner, and what a finish. Owner Ron Crockett, president of Emerald Downs, watched as his two entries, Face and Raise the Bluff, made a stirring duel down the home stretch.

The two Washington-bred horses broke away from a 12-horse field that included four grades stakes winners from California. The Great Face paid $13.40, $7.20 and $5.00 to win, place and show, and I had a few pennies on the winner.

Last year, Wasserman, the third-place winner in the 2007 event, was sort of overlooked by the fans and went off as a 10-1 shot. He gathered momentum in the final turn, staged his usual wide rally, collared the two favorites, True Metropolitan and Tropic Storm, and was up by a neck at the wire to pay $22.40, $7.60 and $3.20 and enable jockey Jennifer Whitaker to become the first female winner of the Mile.

I did not have Wasserman on this race but it was great to be on hand for the event, to stand in long lines at the betting windows, to listen to the talk about the race from experts to first-time bettors and to soak up the atmosphere of a big horse race.

I have not been to the Triple Crown events but being at the Longacres Mile is the next best thing, believe me.

Here is a list of upcoming events at Emerald Downs:

_ July 19 - Washington Lottery Day. First 5,000 fans receive a free scratch ticket and the $50,000 added Lottery Handicap will feature the top 3-year-old fillies at 8.5 furlongs.

_ Aug. 2 - Mascot Day. Emerald Downs mascot, ED, welcomes other furry friends for the Mascot Day Dash as they run from the starting gate. Kids get to mingle up close with the Mariner Moose and others.



State baseball

Area fans will want to support the Olympic Junior Babe Ruth 14-year-old baseball team next week in Port Angeles as they host a 10-team state tournament.

The action begins with four games a day July 21-26 and will be a preview of future high school teams in our area.

Sequim and Port Angeles are involved in a state tourney in Ellensburg beginning tomorrow and fans are urged to drive carefully over Snoqualmie Pass and back as they support their teams.

The crowds were large and loud in the Wilder Firecracker Classic in Port Angeles, an annual showcase for top summer league teams in our area.

It takes a lot of work to put on a tournament of that kind and kudos to volunteers, moms and dads, scorekeepers and announcers and the Port Angeles public works crews who prepare Volunteer and Civic fields.

Reach Scooter Chapman at scooter@olypen.com.





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