Running Noosa Beach

By Marianne Hale

July 17, 2012

A local trainer preps her horse for Washington state’s premier race

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Image Credit: 

Hayley Young

1/ Harwood named Noosa after a beach in Australia where she once vacationed. She’s been naming horses after beaches ever since.

2/ Noosa Beach has run 21 races with 14 first places, four seconds and two thirds, taking home $520,722 in earnings.

3/ Noosa was named Washington State Horse of the Year in 2010 and 2011, a back-to-back honor that hasn’t occurred since Chinook Pass earned the title in 1982 and 1983.

4/ The 2012 Longacres Mile takes place August 19 at Emerald Downs in Auburn. 2300 Emerald Downs Drive; 253.288.7000;

Jockey turned trainer Doris Harwood says horses are like puzzles—and she feels compelled to solve them. “They don’t talk to you,” she notes, “so it’s my job to figure out how each horse can be successful.”

Based in Auburn, Harwood works with 30 to 40 horses at a time and has trained many steeds to tip-top shape during her 20-plus-year career, but one has captured her special attention: Noosa Beach. Bred specifically for Harwood and her husband, Jeff, the 6-year-old gelding (which they own) has been under her tutelage from the get-go, and now has one of the best racing careers in Washington state history.

“Race horses usually have one way of being successful, whether that’s coming from the back or going to the front or laying off the pace,” notes Harwood. “But [Noosa] can do any of the above.”

This month, Harwood, 59, intends to run Noosa in the Northwest’s premier horse race, the Longacres Mile, where he took home first place in 2010 and second place in 2011. Thanks to meticulous advance planning—getting up in the wee hours to “inspect every hair” on the horse—on race day, Harwood says, she isn’t at all nervous, but the Kentucky native does scream. “If you’re around our box,” she warns, “your ears are hurtin’.”


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