Perfect Gift Arrives On Time in Truly Bound

The combination of trainer Neil Howard and jockey Robby Albarado reunited in the winner's circle with Private Gift in the $75,000 Truly Bound Breeders' Cup Handicap, the Christmas Eve feature of the Fair Grounds meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

Howard, who is basing his operation at Oaklawn Park this winter, sent out his first starter of the meet in Private Gift. The 3-year-old daughter of Unbridled took charge over Freei in mid-stretch for a 2 1/4-length win.

Freei held on for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of La Reason in the field of seven fillies and mares.

Private Gift completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.32 and paid $7.80, $5.60 and $3.40. Freei returned $16 and $7.20, while La Reason paid $2.40 to show.

Private Gift, who captured her first stakes win, was coming off a victory in allowance company last month at Churchill Downs, a race in which she defeated Culinary by a half-length. Culinary, the 2-1 favorite Saturday, faded to last.

The victory was worth $45,000 to owners and breeders William S. Farish, James A. Elkins and W. Temple Webber Jr.

Howard and Albarado captured the Truly Bound for the second straight year. They won last season's event with Shadow Cast.

(Chart, Equibase)