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    Emerald Wrap, Sunday, July 22

    Hudson Landing holds off St Liams Halo to win the Mt. Rainier Handicap


    AUBURN, Wash. (July 22, 2012) – The $50,000 Mt. Rainier Handicap was easy as one, two, three.

    The top three betting choices, breaking from post-positions 1, 2 and 3, finished first second and third Sunday in the final local tune-up for the 77th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, Aug. 19.

    At the finish, it was California shipper Hudson Landing (program No. 1) prevailing by a head over Canadian invader St Liams Halo (No.2), with local star Winning Machine (No. 3) another head back in third.

    Ridden by Frank Alvarado at high-weight of 122 lbs, Hudson Landing ran 1-1/16 miles in 1:40.77 and paid $5.40, $3.40 and $2.60. Claimed for $50,000 in February, Hudson Landing has compiled a 4-0-1 record in six subsequent starts for trainer Blaine Wright with earnings of $176,500 for owner Jared Chappell of Alpine, Utah.

    In stamping himself a top contender for the Longacres Mile, Hudson Landing overhauled a tenacious Winning Machine in a stiff drive, and then held off a flying St Liams Halo for the victory.

    “I talked to Blaine (Wright), and he told me just to play it by ear,” Alvarado said of his strategy on Hudson Landing. “We knew there would be plenty of speed in the race, so we figured to sit off the pace and save ground.

    “I felt I had good position on the rail, but I had to move a little early to keep my position. I wanted to keep him close to (Winning Machine) because my horse is very competitive. He’s a fighter. I heard Mario (Gutierrez) coming late, but I knew the wire would come first.”

    A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Maria’s Mon, Hudson Landing has an overall record of 11-6-3 in 32 starts with earnings of $413,188. Since beginning his career in 2009 at Saratoga, Hudson Landing has competed at nine different tracks for six different trainers, but the chestnut has found a home with Wright and Chappell.

    St Liams Halo, ridden by Kentucky Derby winning jockey Mario Gutierrez at 121 lbs, lacked racing room from the quarter to the eighth pole, but rallied strongly when clear to just miss. The runner-up paid $3.60 and $2.40.

    Winning Machine, ridden by Javier Matias at 121 lbs, put away Rainier Ice on the last turn, took a short lead into the lane and continued gamely to the wire to just miss. Winner of both the Governor’s and Budweiser Handicaps earlier at the meet, Winning Machine settled for a close third and paid $2.40.

    Slim Pickins rallied from last to finish fourth and was followed by Rainier Ice, Couldabenthewhisky and Aaron the Baron. Rainier Ice led through fractions of :23.71, :47.04 and 1:10.26, and gave way to Winning Machine midway on the last turn.

    NOTES: Willliam Antongeorgi was the lone jockey with two wins on the 10-race card and became the third rider at the meet with 50 wins…After 15 weeks, Juan Gutierrez is leads with 61 wins, followed by Leslie Mawing, 53, Antongeorgi, 50, and apprentice Eliska Kubinova, 49…Mawing’s victory on Untilifindyou ($4.80) made it 15 straight days he’s ridden at least one winner…Doris Harwood was the lone trainer with two wins, scoring with Untilifindyou in the opener and Whos Calling Now ($4.60) in the finale…In the trainers’ race, Frank Lucarelli leads Tim McCanna by a 30-26 margin with Howard Belvoir third with 23… Although he finished second on St Liams Halo in the Mt. Rainier, Mario Gutierrez picked up the win on Whos Calling Now in the nightcap…Light My Heart has a knack for winning at big prices. The 3-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding has paid $76.80 and $50.40 for his two wins this season, including Sunday’s one-length victory in the fourth race. Jose Zunino has been aboard for both wins for trainer Debbie Van Horne and owner River Creek Farms…Live racing resumes Thursday with first post 6 p.m. The four-day race week concludes Sunday, July 29, with Fiesta Premio Esmeralda and the $50,000 Premio Esmeralda Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings.


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