05/09/2008 12:00AM

Gallon, Margo's Gift resume their rivalry


AUBURN, Wash. - Gallon and Margo's Gift engaged in a lively rivalry last year as 2-year-olds. Gallon actually outfinished Margo's Gift in all three of their meetings, but he was disqualified for causing crowding in the six- furlong Premio Esmeralda Stakes and Margo's Gift was awarded the win.

Gallon then won the one-mile WTBA Lads while Margo's Gift was pulled up, and he finished second to Margo's Gift's third in the 1 1/16- mile Gottstein Futurity, which was won by the superior filly Smarty Deb.

Gallon went on to a successful fall campaign in California, winning an optional $40,000 claimer on turf at Bay Meadows and running a good fourth to Colonel John in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park. Nonetheless, he was upstaged by Margo's Gift, who ended his campaign with a smashing win at 26-1 in Monmouth Park's $250,000 Favorite Trick Stakes on the Friday Breeders' Cup card last Oct. 26.

For their accomplishments, Gallon was voted Emerald Downs's top juvenile male and Margo's Gift was named best Washington-bred 2-year-old colt or gelding.

Gallon, a Kentucky-bred son of Victory Gallop from the barn of trainer Jim Penney, and Margo's Gift, a son of Polish Gift trained by Doris Harwood, will renew their rivalry as 3-year-olds in Sunday's $50,000 Auburn Stakes at six furlongs. It will be the first of what could be as many as five meetings at this meet between the two geldings, and both appear to be more than ready to join the battle.

"My horse hasn't missed a beat all spring, and his final workout was perfect," said Harwood of Margo's Gift. "He went a half-mile in company with Elusive Horizon, who is running in the U.S. Bank Stakes for fillies on Saturday, and they both went in 48.20 on Wednesday morning. It was just what I wanted. Both riders came back and told me they could have gone a lot faster, but I didn't want them to go faster. Margo's Gift is coming into this race just the way I want. I wouldn't trade chances with anybody."

Kay Cooper, Penney's daughter and assistant trainer, seemed equally enthusiastic about Gallon's final workout on Tuesday. He went five furlongs in 58.60 seconds, the fastest of 16 works at the distance.

"We didn't plan for him to go that fast, but he did it so easily that we didn't mind," she said. "We put another horse out in front of him for a target, and he just gobbled up the ground under a stranglehold. I'm very happy with him."

Cooper spoke about Gallon with a quiet confidence that her husband, Bryson Cooper, put into words.

"We'll comb our hair, brush our teeth, and get ready for the winner's circle picture," Bryson Cooper told the track's publicist, Vince Bruun.

The remark was not well received by Harwood's exercise rider, Carol Hubbird.

"Tell Bryson that down at Doris's barn, we comb our hair and brush our teeth every day," she said.

Dat's Dream returns in tough spot

A case can be made that neither Gallon nor Margo's Gift was the best 2-year-old colt or gelding to race here last summer, and that the distinction should have instead gone to Dat's Dream.

Dat's Dream, who at that time was trained by Harwood, raced only twice at 2. In his first outing, he was beaten just a neck by Smarty Deb in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race, and that was the closest that anyone got to Smarty Deb in her four races here last summer. In his second start, Dat's Dream defeated Gallon in a five-furlong maiden special weight race that was run in 56.60, the fastest clocking for the distance ever registered by a 2-year-old at Emerald Downs.

Dat's Dream, a son of Langfuhr who races for Golden Aggie Ranch, was turned out after his maiden win and resumed training with Craig Roberts this spring. Roberts will bring him back in the Auburn.

"I normally don't like to come off the bench and go directly into a stakes, but I haven't had any other options," said Roberts. "In this case both Gallon and Margo's Gift will also be coming off the bench, so we're not really conceding an advantage to those two. Our horse is doing very well, so I guess we'll take them on. We can't duck them."

Judicature gets sharp for handicap

Judicature worked a sharp five furlongs in 1:00.40, the fastest of 19 works at the distance, under rider Leslie Mawing on Thursday in preparation for the May 18 running of the Hastings Park Handicap for older fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"She worked terrific," said assistant trainer David Tollett. "I think she is doing better than ever right now. She's not so stressed, like she was last year. She is more like she was as a 2-year-old. She just goes about her business and comes back happy."

Judicature, a 4-year-old daughter of Tribunal from the barn of trainer Bill Tollett, won two stakes from four starts at 2, but she was only 1 for 5 last year. She kicked off her current campaign with a sharp third to Shampoo in a 5 1/2-furlong prep for the Hastings Park. Though she was dismissed at 30-1 for that race, Bill Tollett said he feels there was nothing flukey about her effort.

"She was actually bumped hard at the start and knocked to her knees, then she had to race widest of all around the turn," said the trainer. "She still finished with a surge, and that was a really good sign. I think she'll be even tougher next time."