Robert LaPenta's 3-year-old colt Easter Gift proved best in the $350,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Parx Racing when he drew off in the final furlong to win the mile-and-70 yard contest by 4 1/2 lengths in the slop Sept. 3.
A son of Hard Spun , Easter Gift completed the third running of the Smarty Jones, named after the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) winner, in 1:42.05 on a sealed track. It was the first stakes victory for Easter Gift, who is trained by Nick Zito and was ridden for the first time by Kendrick Carmouche.
Ward Williford bred Easter Gift in Kentucky. The bay colt is out of the Allen's Prospect mare Angel Gift.
A $90,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase in 2010, Easter Gift broke his maiden at first asking in April at Gulfstream Park. The bay colt followed up that effort with another score in an allowance contest at Parx in May.
In the two races leading up to the Smarty Jones, he was second in the June 17 Pegasus (gr. III) at Monmouth Park and a distant fourth, beaten 14 lengths, in the July 27 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Easter Gift turned over a new leaf of talent in the Smarty Jones, which increased his career earnings to $291,160 from five starts. The victory was worth $210,000.
Teeth of the Dog, the 8-5 favorite in the field of seven 3-year-olds, led most of the race, with 2-1 second choice Traffic Light on his heels and Easter Gift sitting back in fourth. Quarter mile fractions were :23.77, 47.75, and 1:12.17.
Easter Gift swung three wide to advance on the leaders in the turn for home, got the lead at the furlong pole, and gained a strong lead in the drive. Traffic Light, a winner of four of his last five starts, was second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Teeth of the Dog.
Teeth of the Dog, winner of the June 30 Dwyer (gr. II), checked in third but was vanned off the track after sustaining a severe laceration behind. Rounding out the field were Junebugred, My Adonis, Brimstone Island, and Runnin Bull.
Toting 117 pounds, Easter Gift paid $11.60, $5.40, and $3. Traffic Light returned $3.80 and $260, while Teeth of the Dog's show price was worth $2.10.