Margo’s Gift broke a seven-race losing streak Saturday with a tenacious half-length victory over Starbird Road in the $20,000 feature race for Washington-bred sprinters at Emerald Downs.
With Ricky Frazier aboard, Margo’s Gift ran 6-½ furlongs in 1 minute, 16 seconds and paid $5.60 and $3.20. Doris Harwood is the trainer for owner Ken Alhadeff of Seattle, Wash.
Starbird Road, a multiple stakes winner and track record-holder at Emerald Downs, dug in but was beat late by Margo’s Gift. With regular rider Deborah Hoonan-Trujillo riding, Starbird Road paid $3.20 to place.
Tritium finished third and Hired Hand, the early leader, bolted on the turn and finished fourth and last. Rockinstomper was scratched.
A 4-year-old gelding by the late Polish Gift, Margo’s Gift was the state’s champion 2-year-old in 2007, but had fallen on relatively hard times this season, finishing eighth, eighth and sixth in his previous three starts.
Saturday, Margo’s Gift moved into contention on the turn, and the race was on in the stretch. The 8-year-old Starbird Road refused to back down and Margo’s Gift had to work the length of the lane to gradually wear down the tough veteran.
Margo’s Gift has a 7-3-3 record in 17 starts and became the 63rd Washington-bred to eclipse the $300,000 mark in earnings. The $11,000 first prize boosted his bankroll to $309,414.
• Veteran jockey Juan Gutierrez rode five winners on the 10-race card, including the winners of four straight races. It was Gutierrez’ first five-win day at Emerald Downs; Seth Martinez and Kevin Radke share the track record of six wins in one day.
After finishing sixth in the Saturday opener, Gutierrez began his roll in the second race with an eight-length victory aboard Eyes On My Heart. After sitting out the third, Gutierrez rode the winners of races four through seven – Courting Seattle, Dirty Shirt, At the Bada Bing and Golden Pine.
Third all-time at Emerald Downs with 640 wins, Gutierrez rode six winners in one day at Portland Meadows in 2003. He had a chance to equal that feat, but Crafty Again finished fourth in the 10th race and Gutierrez settled for five wins in seven mounts.
“I’m excited because the last couple weeks I’ve struggled a bit,” said Gutierrez, third in the standings with 55 wins. “I had some nice horses today.”
• The stewards suspended A.L. “Tony” Gutierrez for two days (Aug, 1-2) for causing interference on Cranberry Gold in the first race Friday.
• Ricky Frazier rode two winners and has 99 victories in 54 days. Frazier also had a five-win day on June 28. Frazier’s other victory Saturday was aboard the veteran Chickasaw Park ($14.80) in the $14,650 co-feature. It was the 10th Emerald Downs win for the 7-year-old and pushed him past the $150,000 mark in career earnings.
• Monterey Jazz, whose connections talked of running the 5-year-old in the Aug. 16 Longacres Mile, finished fifth as the 11-10 favorite Saturday in the Grade I Eddie Read Handicap on turf at Del Mar. Global Hunter registered a $30.20 upset under Corey Nakatani.
• Week 15 concludes Sunday with first post at 2 p.m. on Longacres Mile Preview Day