Longacres Mile: California gem gets favorite nod

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Awesome Gem, the third-place finisher in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic, has been installed as the 2-to-1 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s $300,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

Awesome Gem, a 6-year-old gelding from the barn of California-based trainer Craig Dollase, will break seventh from the rail in the 12-horse field.

One of five runners from California, Awesome Gem will carry the co-highweight of 122 pounds and jockey Russell Baze, who has won the race three times during his Hall of Fame career, in the grade 3 event.

A son of Awesome Again, Awesome Gem finished third to Horse of the Year Curlin in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park and is coming off a game second-place finish to Global Hunter in the Grade 1 Eddie Read at Del Mar on July 25. The gelding has won 5 of 27 career starts with $1,353,682 in earnings.

Autism Awareness, who was also assigned 122 pounds, received post position No. 5 during Wednesday’s draw. Genaro Vallejo’s charge won the 2008 El Camino Real Derby (Grade 3) at odds of 61-to-1 and this year’s Berkeley Handicap (Grade 3) at 30-to-1. David Lopez receives the mount.

Defending champion Wasserman received post No. 2 and will be ridden by Jennifer Whitaker, who guided the Howard Belvoir-trained gelding to a victory in last year’s race.

Wasserman is looking to become third back-to-back winner in the race’s 74-year history and the first since Simply Majestic accomplished the feat in 1989.

Belvoir will also saddle Assessment in the race. Gallyn Mitchell, the track’s all-time leading rider, will be in the irons as the duo breaks outside the field.

“The three horses directly to his outside all have speed and will go,” Belvoir said. “Gallyn (Mitchell) might be able to tuck in right behind them into the first turn. It could work out well for us.”

Local stakes winner Gallon will break against the rail under Juan Gutierrez.

Atta Boy Roy and Kruger Park round out the list of local hopefuls.

Conditioned by Valorie Lund, Atta Boy Roy is coming off a victory in the Governor’s Handicap and will be ridden by the meet’s leading rider Ricky Frazier.

Atta Boy Roy and Kruger Park received post positions No. 9 and 2, respectively.

A total of 17 horses were entered into the Mile with Trumpet Player Jay winning a four-way shake to earn the 12th and final spot in the field.

Rounding out the field is Crafty Power and Sierra Sunset from California and Bank Emblem and Teide from Canada.

The Longacres Mile will go postward at approximately 6 p.m. with the winner automatically qualifying for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.

The field for the $300,000 Longacres Mile

PPHorse TrainerJockey WtML

1GallonJim PenneyJuan Gutierrez11615

2WassermanHoward BelvoirJennifer Whitaker11610

3Kruger ParkCarlos MorenoJose Contreras11820

4Trumpet Player JayMark GlattMichael C. Baze11515

5Autism AwarenessGenaro VallejoDavid Lopez122 8

6Bank EmblemRobert GilkerFrank Fuentes118 20

7Awesome GemCraig DollaseRussell Baze122 2

8TeideDino CondileniosChad Hoverson11710

9Atta Boy RoyValorie LundRicky Frazier1168

10Sierra SunsetJeff BondeWilliam Antongeorgi1207/2

11Crafty PowerJerry HollendorferFrank Alvarado11820

12AssessmentHoward BelvoirGallyn Mitchell119 6