Canadian-bred Taylor Said, sent off the 5-2 favorite under jockey Mario Gutierrez, held off Winning Machine and jockey Javier Matias in a stirring stretch duel Sunday to claim the 77th edition of the $200,000-added Grade III Longacres Mile in a photo finish at Emerald Downs. Taylor Said clocked a blazing 1:33.3, just off Sky Jack's 2003 stakes record of 1:33.0.
Taylor Said, running out of post No. 9 and trained by Renton's Michael Puhich, had a rough start, running four wide for the first half mile, but assumed the lead in the stretch and barely held off Winning Machine for his fifth consecutive victory and sixth win in nine career starts.
Taylor Said's triumph was worth $110,000 of the $200,000 purse. Winning Machine collected $40,000 for second and nine-year-old Awesome Gem, the defending champion, morning-line favorite and the active leading earner among active thoroughbreds with $2.85 million in purses, earned $30,000 for finishing third.
Awesome Gem, ridden by David Flores, had been looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Mile since Simply Majestic in 1988-89.
Taylor Said, who ran a $25,000 claiming race at Santa Anita last January, is the first Canadian invader to win the Longacres Mile since Travelling Victor in 1984. He paid $7.20, $4.60 and $3.20. The Mile was his first graded stakes victory.
Taylor Said's jockey, Gutierrez, continued a remarkable 2012. He also won this year's Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, all on I'll Have Another.
Also at Emerald Downs Sunday, Class Included, with regular rider Juan Gutierrez aboard, cruised to a five-length victory in the $65,000 Emerald Distaff. It marked her sixth stakes win for owners/breeders Michael and Amy Feuerborn.