The winner's circle was filled to bursting with locally-grown family and friends after Sunday's Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash., in which trainer Mark Glatt saddled Law Abidin Citizen to victory.
Glatt was raised in the Evergreen State, as was his father, Ron Glatt, a former leading trainer at the now-defunct Longacres racetrack in Renton, just south of Seattle. Each of the winning owners is from Washington State as well: Dan Agnew of Vancouver, Gerald Schneider of Auburn and John Xitco of Tacoma.
“For as long as these three have owned horses together, I don't think they'd all made it out to the same race at the same time before this weekend,” said Glatt, 46. “I also had a bunch of old high school friends there with me, and of course my dad had made plans to be at the Longacres Mile before we even knew we'd have a horse running in it.”
The same owners were also behind a strong performance from the Glatt-trained 2-year-old Collusion Illusion in Saturday's G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Glatt hardly had time to celebrate either of the weekend's big stakes wins, however, as he was catching flights from Southern California to Washington and back again within 24 hours.
Still, the magnitude of his achievements was not lost on Glatt.
“It's a really big deal, to win the Longacres Mile in front of the home crowd,” he said. “Especially for (Law Abidin Citizen) to put in such a big stretch run and to transfer his form to the dirt the way he did.”
“I think he got more excited about winning that race than any other stakes he's won in Southern California,” said Glatt's father. “It meant a great deal and it was a lot of fun. … It used to be the Longacres Mile was one of the most prestigious races on the West Coast.”
From 1933 to 1992, Longacres was the cornerstone of live racing in the Pacific Northwest. Ron Glatt was the leading trainer there in 1977, but he “cut his teeth” at Playfair Race Course in Spokane. Carving out a course that would lead several generations of his family on the path to Thoroughbred racing, the elder Glatt started out walking hots before school in the mornings. Now Mark Glatt's son, Ryan, assists his father in Southern California.
By the time his sons were old enough to help with the horses, Ron Glatt owned a five-acre farm in Auburn, Wash., where Emerald Downs would later be built. Mark Glatt learned to do stalls and take care of the horses as soon as he was old enough to lift a pitchfork, and though he agreed to attend college before pursuing a training career, there was never any doubt as to what he wanted to do.
Longacres was closed in 1992 when the owners sold the property to the Boeing Co., after which racing in Washington shifted eastward for several years to Playfair and Yakima Meadows in Yakima. Mark Glatt ran a string of horses for his father at Yakima in 1995, and in 1996 was one of the first horsemen to support Emerald Downs when it opened. Since the racing was seasonal there, Glatt found himself drawn to Golden Gate Fields in Northern California at the end of Emerald's first meet.
“I suppose I intended to go back to Emerald after wintering at Golden Gate,” Glatt said. “I'd arrived there with five horses, and I don't think any of them was worth more than $5,000. But things started to get on a roll. I claimed a couple horses and I just wound up staying there.”
Plan B Stable, the nom de guerre of Bill and Linear Bannasch, gave Mark Glatt a chance to make his move to Southern California in 2000. Ron Glatt sold his holdings in Washington and bought a farm near San Luis Rey training center that same year, to stay near his family.
Glatt's Southern California success in the 19 years since his move does not mean that he has forgotten his Washington roots, however. When lifetime racetracker and family friend Wayne McDonald was diagnosed with cancer, Mark Glatt sent him a couple of his own horses to train.
“He needed something else to focus on, and he was one of my original mentors, along with my father,” Glatt said. “He taught me especially what to look for in a young horse. We've had some pretty good luck, too, especially with a filly we claimed at Golden Gate. She won by eight lengths in her last start for us.”
“I really think that's what's kept (McDonald) going,” added Ron Glatt, emotion edging into his voice. “As I like to say, Mark taught me everything I know.”
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