Rare Gift, with Richard Migliore aboard, was never challenged while drawing off to win Saturday's $109,400 Ladies Handicap (gr. III) in gate-to-wire fashion at Aqueduct.
The 3-year-old grey/roan daughter of Unbridled's Song
set easy early fractions (:25 :49 4/5, 1;14 4/5) under an icy Migliore while leading 8-5 favorite Roar Emotion into the far turn. She shook loose at the head of the stretch and won by a widening six lengths in a time of 2:05 2/5 in the 1 1/4-mile event contested by eight fillies and mares over a track rated fast.
"The plan was not to get in her way," Migliore said. "Whatever she was doing easily, let her be happy. I figured we would be laying 1-2. She got comfortable and I felt like we were in control of things. I had a lot and she kept on coming in that same rhythm."
Trained by John Kimmel, Rare Gift snapped a five-race losing streak while registering her first graded stakes victory. She was second by a neck to Essence in the Anne Arundel (gr. III) Nov. 20 at Pimlico in her last start.
Rare Gift won for the first time since Feb. 7, when she won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. She was off for more than five months after finishing third to Yearly Report in the Black Eyed Susan (gr. II) May 14. The victory, her third in nine lifetime starts, improved her earnings to $188,220 for owners George Bolton, David Dipietro and Roger Honour.
"She's a filly that I always thought had a lot of talent," said Kimmel. "She was coming into nice form this spring, but then she started to grow this mass on the side of her face. It was the weirdest thing you ever saw. She also had chronic discharge out of her left nostril. She had it under control, but then it got bigger for the Black Eyed Susan.
"Eventually, we wound up radiographing it, and she had a large cyst in her sinuses on the left side. It ended up taking us a couple of months to treat that, but she really responded. I think it was like a chronic, nagging infection that probably plagued her breathing.
"She came back and ran very admirably in the Anne Arundel. She's been great ever since. She showed me all along that stretching out in distance wouldn't be a problem. It's nice to get that graded stakes win because she is a pretty valuable filly now to the breeders."
Rare Gift paid $10.40, $5.50 and $4.50. Board Eligible ($5, $4), ridden by Pablo Fragoso, rallied belatedly for second, edging Miss Fortunate ($4.40 ) by a neck.
Nevermore ran fourth, with Roar Emotion, Points a West, French Hideaway and Rendezvous Point following.
Roar Emotion, with Mike Luzzi riding, failed for the third time at 10 furlongs.
"She didn't run her race at all today," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We're very disappointed. We'll take her back to the barn and check her out."