06/02/2008 11:00PM

Ace sprinter Margo's Gift to try routes


AUBURN, Wash. - Margo's Gift has proven beyond doubt that he is an exceptional sprinter. He has won 6 of 7 sprint attempts, including the $250,000 Favorite Trick Stakes last fall at Monmouth Park.

Margo's Gift, a 3-year-old son of Polish Gift and the Knights Choice mare Burgundy Jones, underscored his sprint ability on Sunday, getting up in the final strides under Ricky Frazier to nail the pacesetting Easy Going Cecil by a neck in the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola Handicap. Margo's Gift's arch-rival Gallon was another head back in third as the 6-5 favorite.

Now it's on to something different - route racing. Next up in the 3-year-old division is the one-mile Tacoma Handicap on June 29, then the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew on Aug. 3, and then the 1 1/8-mile Emerald Downs Derby on Sept. 1. Because he is a Washington-bred, Margo's Gift is also eligible to run in the one-mile Trooper Seven Stakes on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 14.

All of those races are routes, and in that arena Margo's Gift has something to prove.

Last year he was eased early in the one-mile WTBA Lads, then finished third to winner and stablemate Smarty Deb and runner-up Gallon in the 1 1/16-mile Gottstein Futurity. The futurity effort was okay, but he will need to do better around two turns if he is to extend his success through the remainder of this season. Trainer Doris Harwood makes no promises on that score, but she is optimistic.

"Both Ricky and I feel that he has changed since last year, and that he is still changing," said Harwood. "He was physically mature as a 2-year-old so it's not that he is all that much bigger, but he is maturing mentally.

"He is more relaxed, and I think that means he will go farther. If not, he is still a darn good sprinter."

Harwood said she is taking it one race at a time with Margo's Gift, but she admitted to having an eye on the future.

"I'm thinking of going down to Southern California in the fall, and Margo's Gift is one of the horses I would take," she said. "I'd love to try him on the turf."

Harwood, incidentally, continued her domination of local 2-year-old racing by saddling the first two finishers in Saturday's initial maiden special weight offering for juvenile fillies of the meet.

Super Dixie, a daughter of Dixie Union and former Emerald Downs horse of the meeting Youcan'ttakeme, won by 2 1/4 lengths over stablemate Where I Belong in an extremely fast 51.20 for 4 1/2 furlongs.

Harwood has now won 3 of the 4 2-year-old races at the meet, running first and second in two of them.

Startjumpin Marnie wins the hard way

Startjumpin Marnie made amends for her fourth-place finish at 1-5 in the six-furlong U.S. Bank Stakes with a victory in Saturday's 6 1/2-furlong Federal Way Handicap, but it wasn't easy. Startjumpin Marnie, a 3-year-old daughter of Jump Start from the barn of California trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, came to Enumclaw Girl with a full head of steam at the top of the lane and seemed poised to blow right on by under rider Leslie Mawing. But Enumclaw Girl dug back in, and it took the length of the stretch for Startjumpin Marnie to get ahead by a neck while covering the distance in 1:14.60.

"I'm just glad she was able to show what she can do," said Hollendorfer assistant Galen May. "She was in a world of trouble last time, and the race was over before she got a chance to run."

May has been caring for Startjumpin Marnie and her 4-year-old stablemate Private Dreams since the two Hollendorfer-trained fillies arrived here several weeks ago. Their stay is almost over. Private Dreams, who won the six-furlong Hastings Park Handicap here in impressive fashion on May 18, will run in Sunday's Washington State Legislators Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Shortly thereafter, the two fillies will be vanned back to Hollendorfer in Northern California and May will depart for Kentucky, where he will prepare millionaire Hystericalady for an upcoming engagement. He hopes to leave Emerald Downs with three stakes wins from four tries.

"Private Dreams trained better on Sunday than she has ever trained in her life," said May. "I know she is ready. It will take an awfully good horse to beat her."

Gilchrist star also eyeing the Legislators

It so happens that an awfully good horse is on the list of 15 nominees for Sunday's stakes. Northern California trainer Greg Gilchrist nominated Victorina, who reportedly will run in the Washington State Legislators under local rider Kevin Radke.

Victorina, a 5-year-old daughter of Delaware Township, has won 9 of 17 starts and $475,033. She has won six stakes at five different tracks, including the Grade 3 Azaelea at Calder, and she finished second to millionaire Somethinaboutlaura when last seen, in the six-furlong Luck Be a Lady Handicap at Bay Meadows last October.

* Trainer Tim McCanna is on pace to obliterate his own record of 55 wins at a single Emerald Downs meeting, a total he reached in both 2000 and 2003. Through Sunday's 23rd day of the current 91-day meet, McCanna had 26 wins. If he maintains that pace, he would end the meet with 103 wins.