The Longacres Mile is my favorite race. Always has been and likely always will be. It’s “our” race here in the Northwest. It’s the one everyone up here wants to win. It’s history here, it’s been run 78 times and Sunday is the 79th renewal. I wanted to share some of my memories of my favorite race over the years. From the last few years at old Longacres and it’s beautiful poplar trees and meticulously manicured infield grass, to the more recent ones at Emerald Downs, standing right at the foot of Mt. Rainier.
1990–I was ten years old and was just getting a little too big to sit on my dad’s shoulders anymore. But Longacres had this green retaining wall that acted as the rail for fans to go stand up against and the closer you got to the winner’s circle, the higher that wall got. So as they were going into the gate I begged my dad to let me sit on his shoulders. He flung me up just in time to see Snipledo come flying out of the gate and lead the field on a merry chase around the oval. Snipledo dominated that day. He had been claimed for $60,000 just two starts prior and one of the owners he was claimed away from was my pal Jerry Kohls, the now longtime racing secretary at Portland Meadows. Jerry was at Yakima Meadows back then and said his $15,000 share of the claim was used for a down payment on his house. I told him “just imagine what the $35,000 share you’d have got for winning the Mile would have bought!”
1991–My dad told me as we were walking into the track this day “It’s gonna be all G. Stevens today Jas”. Gary Stevens was coming in to ride Louis Cyphre, the big California shipper. There almost always is a “Big California shipper”. Well I was sticking with my favorite horse, Captain Condo! Sure enough, Louis got the jump on the Condo and the Condo had to settle for second.
1992–2002–So from 1992 to 2003 I was more concerned with school, baseball, playing in a band, and getting chicks, so I didn’t go to any Mile’s.
2003–The might Sky Jack gives one more big run and dominates a field to win going away. I had just started law school at Gonzaga the week before, but I spent the entire day in the OTB at the defunct Post Falls Greyhound Park watching and wagering. I liked Poker Brad as a long shot and he ran second but nobody was getting to Sky Jack that day. I think it may be the most impressive Longacres Mile win at Emerald Downs.
2004–I had secured a job at Emerald Downs as a turf writer, doing all the stories for the website and helping out in the media office. I also was really beginning my degeneracy as a serious compulsive gambler. I brought 300 with me to the track that day and was punting at Calder by 9:50am, still 8 hours from Mile post time. Well by about 11:30am, still two and a half hours to first post at Emerald, I had blown the $300. I spent the entire night before handicapping the emerald downs races and going through them with a fine tooth comb, and now i’d pissed away my money betting races I hadn’t even capped. Well I reach into my wallet to take out the ATM card and…..fuck. I left my card at home. So I spent the entire day watching and not betting, pissed off, annoyed and angry. Adreamisborn won in the slop and I watched from the winner’s circle bitter as hell.
2005–One of my best memories as a gambler. All day long I’d watched the speed tire and tire and tire and quit. Now Longacres Mile Day every year has always favored speed when it’s a fast track. I think the first 8 runnings of the MIle at Emerald Downs nobody came from like more than a length and a half behind at the half mile to win it. The conspiracy theorists say since track owner Ron Crockett had a deep closer in the form of Harvard Avenue and he demanded the track be groomed to help closers. So ten minutes before the Mile, I toss out all my handicapping from the night before and do a 5 horse trifecta box for $60, betting horses I think will come from off the pace and chucking favored Flamethrowintexan. Well Tex and Sabertooth cut out a half mile in 44 and 4/5 seconds and the closers came a running, in the form of 60/1 No Giveaway over 25/1 Quiet Cash over 3/1 Quiet Cash and I took home the trifecta for $4,900! I was jumping and dancing and screaming down on the apron while everyone else sat in silence at the 60/1 shocker!!
2006-2008–I was at River Downs announcing and had to watch via TV.
2009–I hosted the Rail Bird Rally which is a great tail gate event. I got to interview Laffit PIncay Jr., Ron Crockett, some guy from West Point Thoroughbreds and many others! It was about 80 degrees by noon and then I had to change into a tuxedo and do paddock handicapping with Victor “The Predictor” Cozzetti in the now 90 degree weather in a tuxedo. I was out in the heat all day in the tux and eventually got heat stroke, went to the hospital and got fluids injected into me for three hours while Assessment won the Mile from the outside draw. I also got paid in voucher form that day for my services. I remember the marketing director saying “ok here’s your check and it was a voucher!” the voucher started with many hundred dollars on it and by the time I got back from the hospital, I cashed it out for $86.
I love The Mile