Jose Zunino rides Slew’s Tiz Whiz to victory during the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Auburn on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Emerald Downs)

Jose Zunino rides Slew’s Tiz Whiz to victory during the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Auburn on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Emerald Downs)

Slew’s Tiz Whiz takes 1st at Longacres Mile

The 4-year-old gelding became the first Washington-bred horse to win the race since 2015.

AUBURN – Sometimes the key to victory is the shortest path.

While the other top contenders took wider routes, it was top local hopeful Slew’s Tiz Whiz who skimmed along the rail for a crowd-pleasing victory in the $150,000 Longacres Mile on Sunday at Emerald Downs.

Ridden by veteran local jockey Jose Zunino, Slew’s Tiz Whiz took advantage of his No. 1 post position and saved ground around both turns, settling in midpack as pacesetter Papa’s Golden Boy set a blistering pace and opened a 4-length lead entering the stretch. Slew’s Tiz Whiz angled out and swept past the frontrunner in the final yards to win by 2¾ lengths.

“We were a little lucky going into the first turn, but everything worked out great,” Zunino said. “He wanted to go at the quarter-pole, so I let him go, and he was the best.”

The Mile was the third straight victory for the improving 4-year-old gelding, owned by Darlyne Krieg of Oak Harbor and trained by Tom Wenzel. Slew’s Tiz Whiz’s top win before Sunday was in the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap last month. The Mile boosted his career record to six wins from 13 starts, and the winner’s share nearly doubled his career earnings to $170,707. He paid $8.80 to win as the 3-1 second choice in the wagering.

Papa’s Golden Boy, the fleet-footed champion local sprinter, held well for second at the mile, a distance that was about a quarter-mile longer than his best. He paid $11.20 to place. Five Star General, who has been second and third in the past two runnings of the Mile, hit the board again this year, finishing third at long odds and paying $7.00 to show. Top Executive, the slight post-time favorite, finished fourth.

Background, last year’s Mile champion, was close to the pace early but it was apparent by the final turn that he couldn’t make enough headway to defend his title this year. He finished fifth. Majestic Eagle, shipped in from California by legendary trainer Neil Drysdale, was far back early and tried for a late rally wide on the track, but could only close to sixth.

Meanwhile, Slew’s Tiz Whiz was taking a much shorter path, which Wenzel said was by design.

“We just huddled up on the rail from the 1 post position and just stayed there and tried to save ground and make a race of it,” he said. “Luckily when this horse comes to the stretch, when you ask him, he’s just a real trier. It’s really fun to watch a horse like this run.”

Slew’s Tiz Whiz, a bay gelding, is the first Washington-bred to win the Mile since 2015. He was bred by the late Karl Krieg, who was on the minds of the horse’s connections in the winner’s circle after the race.

“I know Karl was helping a lot today in this race,” Wenzel said. “He put wings this horse again for us.” Krieg’s widow, Darlyne, noted that her late husband had made the breeding match that resulted in Slew’s Tiz Whiz.

“The man knew what he was doing on stuff like that,” she said. “He’s here with us.”

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