Background and Rocco Bowen (left) Edge Windribbon in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs
Background and jockey Rocco Bowen would not be denied victory at Sunday’s $ 100,000 Longacres Mile (G3) at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington.
The 4-year-old gelding and three-time Emerald Downs riding master joined forces for a final burst of energy and nailed Windribbon in the final jump to head victory at the 86th renewal of the leading horse race in the Northwest.
Background, the betting favorite, ran the mile in 1: 36.67 and returned $ 6.60 for a $ 2 ticket. Mike Puhich, who wins his second Longacres Mile, is the trainer of the owners Bob and Molly Rondeau of Normandy Park.
Bob Rondeau, best known as the University of Washington’s longtime voice of basketball and football, led the cheers in a loud and emotional winners’ circle ceremony.
“Unbelievable, I have no voice at all,” said Rondeau. “(In the middle of the track) there is no way he can win this race, but (background) had the tools to pull it off. That is an unimaginable thrill. “
Bowen, who won 2016, ’17 and ’18 titles here, resumed his driving career in the Midwest last year after being out of action for around 18 months due to injury. When he returned to Emerald Downs to win the track’s biggest race, the 32-year-old Barbadian native burst into tears.
“I can not believe it. . .finally, ”said Bowen. “I knew Background wasn’t done yet, we fought together out there.”
Background was bred by Khozan in Florida and earned $ 55,000 to grow his bankroll to $ 287,532. The chestnut gelding is 4-2-4 out of a total of 14 starts, including three wins at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Windribbon, ridden by Kevin Orozco, almost managed a 12 to 1 surprise, which would have given coach Blaine Wright a second mile win in a row. The 5-year-old gelding swept past Papa’s Golden Boy and Anyportinastorm into the track, opened a 2½-long lead over the middle of the course and barely held the last time. Windribbon is owned by Seamist Racing and earned $ 27,500.
Five Star General, the favorite of the 5 to 2 morning line, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, ousted Papa’s Golden Boy to third place in the last jump. The 5-year-old horse now has a second and a third place in the last two miles.
Papa’s golden boy, who wanted to sweep all three missions for older horses at the meeting, fought valiantly to the end and finished fourth.
Papa’s Golden Boy, ridden by Julien Couton, and Anyportinastorm, ridden by Juan Gutierrez, dueled by fractions of: 22.94,: 45.73 and 1: 09.73, with neither driver giving in an inch. Windribbon, positioned just behind these two, took his step on the trail and seemed to be heading for an angry victory.
But Background, early in sixth place, put up a sustained, grueling rally that eventually bore fruit at the finish line.
Unmachable rallied from the last end to take fifth place, a length behind Papa’s Golden Boy, while Anyportinastorm faded to sixth place. Reelfoot, the longest prize on the board at 101 to 1, finished seventh, while Hard to Deny, Muncey, Forest Fire and Sir Bregovic completed the ranking.
The Rondeaus enjoyed a great day. In addition to Background, who won the mile, Compelling Smile, owned by Rondeau and Mark Dedomenico, took second place in the $ 50,000 Emerald Distaff.
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