05/08/2008 11:00PM

Auburn rivals draw two inside posts

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AUBURN, Wash. - A field of eight 3-year-olds, including divisional leaders Margo's Gift and Gallon, will square off in Sunday's $50,000 Auburn Handicap at six furlongs.

Margo's Gift and Gallon, both stakes winners as 2-year-olds here last season, will line up in the two inside posts, with Margo's Gift drawing the rail. Trainer Doris Harwood was unconcerned about Margo's Gift's draw.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "He's not going to the front anyway, and the inside path is the shortest way around."

Margo's Gift, a son of Polish Gift who races for Ken Alhadeff's Elttaes Stable, won 5 of 7 starts last season, including four stakes, for $243,714 in earnings. After winning the six-furlong Premio Esmeralda via the disqualification of Gallon, Margo's Gift won the Strong Ruler and the Captain Condo at Emerald before shipping to Monmouth Park to win the $250,000 Favorite Trick Stakes in October. He will be making his seasonal debut under regular rider Ricky Frazier.

Gallon, a son of Victory Gallop from the barn of trainer Jim Penney, was disqualified from an apparent win in the Premio Esmeralda before earning his stakes brackets in the one-mile WTBA Lads. He also won a $40,000 optional claiming race over the Bay Meadows turf course in October before wrapping up his juvenile campaign with a fourth to Colonel John in the Real Quiet Stakes at Santa Anita in November. Gallon, who races for Mike Feuerborn, will make his seasonal bow under rider Juan Gutierrez.

Only three in the field have raced this year. Bobby Rar Rar and Never Benched finished one-two in a 5 1/2-furlong race under $25,000 starter allowance conditions on April 26, while Easy Going Cecil won a 5 1/2-furlong affair for $40,000 claimers on April 20. Blaine Wright, who trains Easy Going Cecil for Due Diligence Stable, hopes the tune-up will give Easy Going Cecil an edge.

"We're trying to take advantage of our fitness," said the trainer. "It's a tough assignment, but now is the time to take it on."

o Registration will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday for Emerald's Ultimate Qualifying Tournament. The handicapping tournament, which will be held on July 27, offers $40,000 in prize money as well as nine qualifying spots for the $1 million Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. The entry fee is $125, payable by credit card, and there is a maximum of two entries per person. To register, call (253) 288-7711.