Easter Gift gets Smarty Jones


Robert V. LaPenta's Easter Gift ran away with the Grade 3, $350,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx by 4 1/2 lengths on Monday. Sent off as the 9-2 fourth choice, the Nick Zito trainee overtook Traffic Light in midstretch and drew off in the slop. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche guided the three-year-old son of Hard Spun to his first career stakes victory in this local prep for the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 22.

The 8-5 favorite Teeth of the Dog jumped out to the early lead, hitting the opening quarter in :23 3/5 and half in :47 3/5 under pressure from Traffic Light, who jumped in front after three-quarters in 1:12. By that point, Easter Gift, a close-up fourth early, loomed into contention. Traffic Light tried to fend him off down the stretch, but Easter Gift was too strong inside the final furlong.

Easter Gift stopped the clock in 1:42 for the one mile and 70 yards on a sloppy, sealed track and returned $11.60, $5.40 and $3.

Traffic Light crossed the wire a clear second by 2 1/4 lengths. Teeth of the Dog finished third, but was vanned off the track.

Junebugred, My Adonis, Brimstone Island and Runnin Bull rounded out the order of finish. Not a Given and Prospective were both scratched.

This was just the fifth career start for Easter Gift, who won his maiden debut at Gulfstream by a neck and then followed that with an allowance victory at Parx. He came up a neck short in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes on June 17 and finished fourth in his last effort, the July 27 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga. With earnings now of $291,160, Easter Gift is 5-3-1-0 lifetime.

Bred by Ward Williford in Kentucky, Easter Gift was purchased for $90,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September.

The bay sophomore is out of multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner Angel Gift, by Allen's Prospect, making him a half-brother to the stakes-placed Wings of an Angel. His second dam, Whiskey's Gift, also produced stakes winners Jarf and Easy Million. Whiskey's Gift was a full sister to Australian Horse of the Year and German champion Strawberry Road.