Trainer Tony Alagna hopes Rare Gift delivered a special present in the form of 2-year-old colt trotter Gifted Way.
Gifted Way, a son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Rare Gift, was purchased for $170,000 at the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale. Gifted Way makes his third start Friday in the single elimination for the Peter Haughton Memorial for 2-year-old male trotters at Meadowlands Racetrack. The colt is owned by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Little E LLC, and Deo Volente Farms. Gifted Way is part of a four-horse entry in the Haughton elim, along with Jimmy Takter-trained Special Action, The Bank, and Uncle Lasse. The group is 3-5 on the morning line.
Rounding out the horses in the elim, from which the top seven finishers advance to the $280,000 (est.) final on Aug. 2, Hambletonian Day, are Ake Svanstedt's Centurion ATM and Amicus, Ray Schnittker's Broken Record, Erv Miller's SS Poseidon, Nancy Johansson's Cruzado Dela Noche, and Mark Harder's True Blue Stride.
Three horses received byes to the final: Takter's Canepa Hanover, Nik Drennan's Guess Whos Back, and Jim Campbell's Honor And Serve.
Gifted Way won his debut, a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars, on July 4 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He went off stride at the start in his second race, which was won by Canepa Hanover, on July 18 at the Meadowlands.
"He's a nice colt,” Alagna said. "When the gate left the other night, he just got off on the wrong foot and made a break, which he hadn't done before. He trotted good after making the break, came out of the race fine, and trained back good (Tuesday). I think we're set for the elimination on Friday night.”
Gifted Way is Rare Gift's fourth foal, and first by Cantab Hall, who was the sport's leading trotting sire in 2012 and 2013. Rare Gift is a full sister to stakes-winner Stand Strong and a three-quarter-sister to 1996 Horse of the Year Continentalvictory and stakes-winner Victory Abroad.
"The family has been a little stagnant, but this was by far the best colt the mare had thrown,” Alagna said. "He's very correct. He was very athletic in the paddock. He just had everything going for him. Cantab Hall has just been red hot the last couple years, so we thought we would take a shot. We're glad we did. I think he was the right horse.”
Gifted Way is not the only horse in the Haughton elim with well-known relatives.
Uncle Lasse is a full brother to Shake It Cerry, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly trotter and a top contender in the upcoming Hambletonian Oaks, and Broken Record is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. Special Action's family includes 2006 Hambletonian winner Glidemaster and The Bank's dam is millionaire Lantern Kronos.
Friday's card also features two eliminations for the Merrie Annabelle Stakes for 2-year-old female trotters and the second round of the Ima Lula Series for 4-year-old female trotters.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications