08/09/2007 11:00PM

Courageous Son gets another go at Margo's Gift


AUBURN, Wash. - When last seen, Margo's Gift and Courageous Son were battling head and head down the stretch in the July 21 running of the Premio Esmeralda Stakes at six furlongs. Margo's Gift and rider Ricky Frazier had kept Courageous Son pinned tight along the rail from the start, and things got even tighter when Courageous Son's stablemate Gallon joined the duo from the outside passing the sixteenth pole. Eventually, jockey Gallyn Mitchell was forced to check Courageous Son near the wire, and Gallon was disqualified from an apparent head victory over Margo's Gift for contributing to the late squeeze.

Mitchell, whose third-place finish aboard Courageous Son remained unchanged, doesn't feel that justice was done.

"I think everyone thought I called the objection because of what happened near the wire, but that wasn't the case," said Mitchell. "By the time I checked were already beaten, so it only meant that we got beat a length instead of a neck or a half-length. I called the objection because Ricky's horse was pushing me down to the rail on the backstretch. That was what cost us the race. I really thought I was on the best horse that day."

Mitchell and Courageous Son will have their chance to take revenge on Sunday, when they will again meet Frazier and Margo's Gift in the restricted Strong Ruler Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. Courageous Son's connections feel he is ready for the task at hand.

"He came out of that last race just fine, he came back to work well, and we're looking for another good race from him," said Bryson Cooper, trainer Jim Penney's son-in-law. "He has acted like a good horse all along. He takes everything in stride. In his first race he broke slowly from the inside, but he came up through traffic like he had been doing it all his life. I don't think anything that happens is going to bother him."

Bonus comes with victory

Margo's Gift, who is one of three winners by freshman sire Polish Gift at this meeting, earned $24,255 for his victory in the $40,000 Premio Esmeralda. He also earned a $50,000 bonus put up by Greg Conley, who stood Polish Gift at Bob and Barbara Meeking's Allaire Farm in Paulsbo, Wash.

"I offered the bonus to the first Washington-bred stakes winner by Polish Gift at Emerald Downs," said Conley. "I wanted to offer an incentive to breed to Polish Gift, of course, but I also wanted to support the Washington breeding industry and Emerald Downs. It worked out great, because Margo's Gift was Polish Gift's first starter, and he won the first stakes of the season for colts and geldings. I couldn't be more pleased."

Unfortunately, Polish Gift, a regally bred son of Danzig and Miner's Game, by Mr. Prospector, died of colic last year after breeding his third book of mares. As all breeders know, that just about guaranteed his success as a sire. It also left a hole in the state's stallion roster, but Conley feels he has found just the stallion to fill that hole.

"I was able to buy Polish Gift's full brother Polish Miner," he said. "He was actually more accomplished than Polish Gift on the track, and he was off to a great start at stud in Maryland. He was Maryland's leading freshman sire last year with six winners, and he is the leading second-crop sire so far this year with six winners. I have very high hopes for him."

Polish Miner, who is now 10, won 4 of 30 starts for $344,646 in earnings and placed in four graded stakes. He has another full brother, the 5-year-old Survivalist, who won the Grade 3 Gotham and ran second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct en route to compiling a record of 5 wins from 15 starts for $478,920 in earnings.

Conley said Polish Miner will stand next year at Allaire Farm for a fee yet to be determined.

First win for new rider

Apprentice jockey Wayne Robison notched his first win with his 10th career mount in last Sunday's ninth race, booting the Jessie Velasquez-trained Onehundred'n First to a come-from-behind score against $4,000 claimers at 7-1.

"The race unfolded just the way Jessie told me it would," said Robison. "He told me to lay off the early pace and ride hard from the five-sixteenths pole, and everything worked out perfectly. It was quite a thrill, and I'm grateful to Jessie for giving me the chance."

Robison, a 23-year-old native of South Dakota, feels he has a lot of people to thank for helping him to realize his ambition of becoming a rider, beginning with his father, Frank, and his grandfather Max.

"I grew up on their farms in Montana, and they had me breaking yearlings by the time I was 17," said Robison. "They taught me my basic horsemanship."

Robison said he was introduced to racing in California by trainer Marie Goda, who taught him how to train and helped him get a job as manager of a training center. He then worked for trainer Eoin Harty and became an assistant to trainer Patrick Gallagher before striking out on his own as a trainer in November of last year.

"All the while I knew I wanted to ride, though," said Robison. "I trained until this July, then I traded in my trainer's license for an apprentice rider's license. The last horse I saddled as a trainer was the first one I rode as an apprentice. His name is Mits S., and we finished third at Los Alamitos.

That was on July 20. A week later, upon the advice of trainers Keith and Scott Craigmyle, he moved his tack to Emerald and hooked up with agent Denise Mitchell. A week after that, he booted home his first winner.