06/30/2008 11:00PM

Gallon silences his critics in Tacoma


AUBURN, Wash. - Coming into Sunday's one-mile Tacoma Handicap, Gallon had begun to accumulate a few critics. Though he had been beaten just a head by Fear No Evil in the six-furlong Auburn Stakes and only a neck by Margo's Gift in the 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola Handicap, some felt he should have won those races. They felt he was in position to win, but hung, or flattened out, at the moment of truth.

Gallon, a son of Victory Gallop who races for Mike and Amy Feuerborn, was again in position to win Sunday. He had come from more than seven lengths back to be just 1 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetting Fear No Evil with a furlong to run, but Fear No Evil was stubborn. For an instant, it seemed as though his rally would fall short again, but Gallon responded to the urging of rider Juan Gutierrez and produced a late surge that carried him to a neck victory in 1:36.60. Margo's Gift finished third, two lengths behind Fear No Evil.

"I think the problem was that we might have tried to keep him too close in those shorter races," trainer Jim Penney said. "We were afraid the speed would get away from him in the sprints. With more ground to work with, we felt we could afford to let him settle in and drop farther back. That's the way he wants to run, and that was why he finished better. The distance suited him better, too. He is really a much better horse going a route of ground."

Gallon's preference for two-turn racing is a nice fit with the remainder of the stakes schedule for 3-year-olds at this meeting. The $60,000 Seattle Slew Handicap on Aug. 3 will be run at 1 1/16 miles, and the $100,000 Emerald Downs Derby on Sept. 1 will be contested at 1 1/8 miles.

Fear No Evil, a son of Trust N Luck, also appears well-suited for two turns. Though he was tested by Easy Going Cecil early in the Tacoma, he shook off that rival, set honest fractions through six furlongs in 1:10.40, and nearly lasted. In fact, he might have won if he had not ducked out while changing leads inside the furlong marker.

As for Margo's Gift, he might be better as a sprinter. Margo's Gift has won 6 of 7 starts at distances up to 6 1/2 furlongs, but he has only a pair of thirds to show for three tries at a mile or more. Rider Ricky Frazier said Margo's Gift may have been too aggressive in the early going Sunday, expending energy that was needed for the stretch run.

"We just didn't have an answer for the winner," he said.

Flamethrowintexan returning in Governor's

Penney said Flamethrowintexan, the winner of the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in 2006, will return to action in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Flamethrowintexan, who is now 7, raced only twice last year and never produced his best form, finishing eighth in the FSN and sixth in the Governor's before being turned out.

"He just wasn't quite right last year, so we decided the best thing to do was to give him time to grow his feet back and get good and healthy," Penney said. "He is healthy now, and he has been training very well. He had a very good work on Saturday morning," going six furlongs in 1:10.60. "We feel this race is coming up a little quickly, but if he is going to have a chance to make this year's Mile, he'll have to go in it."

Also among the 10 nominated for the Governor's were local stakes winners Call on Carson, Immigration, Nationhood, Wasserman, and Westsideclyde, plus Hastings stakes winner B R Remark.

Mitchell gets 1,000th win at Emerald

Gallyn Mitchell became the first rider to notch 1,000 wins at Emerald Downs on Saturday when he booted the Bud Klokstad-trained Cherokee Echo to a debut win in the third race, a maiden special weight race for 2-year-old fillies. He got his first Emerald Downs win on the third day the track operated, Juneo22, 1996, aboard the Dave Bennett-trained Heavens Yes.

Mitchell, 45, is the only rider who has campaigned at Emerald Downs in each of the track's 13 seasons. He has finished among the top five riders at every meeting, and he was the track's leading rider in 1999 and 2000. His 1,000th Emerald Downs win came on his 6,071st mount at the track.

Mitchell, who began riding in 1981 and has 2,266 career wins, has won at Emerald for 109 different trainers on 664 different horses. By contrast, all 1,000 of the rider's winners were booked by his wife and agent, Denise Mitchell.

Track president Ron Crockett presented Mitchell with a jewel-studded belt buckle to commemorate his feat.

It will be a long time before another rider joins Mitchell in the 1,000-win club at Emerald. Retired jockey Frank Gonsalves is second on the list with 561 wins.