‘An Unimaginible Thrill’: Background Proves Best In Longacres Mile

Background and jockey Rocco Bowen would not be denied victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Longacres Mile (G3) at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash.

The 4-year-old gelding and three-time Emerald Downs riding champion combined forces for one final surge of energy and nailed Windribbon in the final jump for a head victory in the 86th renewal of the Northwest’s premier horse race.

Background, the betting favorite, ran the mile in 1:36.67 and returned $6.60 for a $2 win ticket. Mike Puhich, winning his second Longacres Mile, is the trainer for owners Bob and Molly Rondeau of Normandy Park.

Bob Rondeau, best known as the longtime voice of University of Washington basketball and football, led the cheers in a raucous and emotional winner’s circle ceremony.

“Unbelievable, I have no voice left at all,” Rondeau said. “(In mid-stretch) there’s no way in the world he wins that race, but (Background) had the wherewithal to pull it off. This is an unimaginable thrill.”

Bowen, who won titles here in 2016, ’17 and ’18, resumed his riding career in the Midwest last year after missing some 18 months with injuries. Returning to Emerald Downs to win the track’s biggest race had the 32-year-old native of Barbados in tears.

“I can’t believe it. . .finally,” Bowen said. “I knew Background wasn’t done, we fought together out there.”

A Florida-bred by Khozan, Background earned $55,000 to push his bankroll to $287,532. The chestnut gelding is 4-2-4 from 14 starts overall including three wins at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

Windribbon, ridden by Kevin Orozco, nearly pulled off a 12 to 1 upset that would have given trainer Blaine Wright a second straight Mile victory. The 5-year-old gelding swept past Papa’s Golden Boy and Anyportinastorm into the lane, opening a 2 ½-length lead past mid-stretch, and just failed to last. Owned by Seamist Racing, Windribbon earned $27,500.

Five Star General, the 5 to 2 morning line favorite ridden by Mario Gutierrez, edged Papa’s Golden Boy in the final jump for third place. The 5-year-old full horse now has a second and a third in the last two Miles.

Papa’s Golden Boy, bidding to sweep all three stakes for older horses at the meet, battled gamely to the wire and finished fourth.

Papa’s Golden Boy, ridden by Julien Couton, and Anyportinastorm, ridden by Juan Gutierrez, dueled through fractions of :22.94, :45.73 and 1:09.73, with neither rider giving an inch. Windribbon, positioned just behind those two, made his move into the lane and appeared headed for the upset victory.

But Background, in sixth place early, made a sustained, grinding rally that finally bore fruit at the finish line.

Unmachable rallied from dead last to pick off fifth place, one length behind Papa’s Golden Boy, while Anyportinastorm faded to sixth. Reelfoot, longest price on the board at 101 to 1, finished seventh while Hard to Deny, Muncey, Forest Fire and Sir Bregovic completed the order of finish.

The Rondeaus enjoyed a big day. In addition to Background winning the Mile, Compelling Smile, co-owned by Rondeau and Mark Dedomenico, finished second in the $50,000 Emerald Distaff.

The post ‘An Unimaginible Thrill’: Background Proves Best In Longacres Mile appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.