07/16/2008 11:00PM

Gallant Son the most accomplished

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AUBURN, Wash. - Gallant Son, the lone maiden special weight winner in the field, heads a group of seven promising juvenile colts and geldings in Saturday's $50,000 Premio Esmeralda at six furlongs.

Gallant Son, a Malabar Gold colt trained by Frank Lucarelli, finished fourth to Alpakapaluza when he debuted at the maiden special weight level on June 21, but he broke slowly and raced wide on the turn that day. Coming back just eight days later on June 29, Gallant Son led throughout en route to a three-quarter-length win in 58 seconds for five furlongs.

Alpakapaluza would have been one of the favorites in the Premio Esmeralda, but was withheld from the race because of sore shins.

Enumerator poses a bold threat to Gallant Son, as he outfinished Alpakapaluza by more than four lengths in his only start, on May 26. Enumerator, a son of He's Tops from the barn of trainer Doris Harwood, got 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.40. He has since posted four sharp workouts, including five furlongs in 59 on July 8.

Also a danger is Zagreus, a Tom Wenzel-trained son of Yonaguska who finished second to Alpakapaluza on June 21. Zagreus was beaten 2 1/4 lengths that day, but he appeared to lose more ground than that when he broke slowly before being forced to check on the backstretch and entering the turn.

"It looked like he might have been the best horse that day," said Wenzel. "We decided to skip the maiden special weight race last weekend and go right into the stakes. He is a California-bred, and there are limited opportunities for him in the stakes races here, so we decided to take a shot."

Zagreus, who was purchased by owner Ron Crockett from last summer's WTBA yearling sale for $41,000, is a half-brother to Marva Jean, a multiple stakes winner at Emerald Downs earlier this decade.

Inhoc Signo Vinces will be coming back in nine days to contest the Premio Esmeralda. Inhoc Signo Vinces, a son of Malek trained by Rigoberto Velasquez, debuted at the $40,000 maiden level on July 10 and posted an impressive 6 1/4-length win with five furlongs in 57.80.

Snake Attack was also an impressive winner over maiden claimers in his only start. A Tim McCanna-trained son of You and I, Snake Attack defeated $20,000 maidens by a handy 8 1/4 lengths on June 26, when he got five furlongs in 57.60.