12/22/2005 1:00AM

Breakthrough eve

Louis Hodges Jr.
Culinary, beaten by Private Gift on Nov. 13 at Churchill, rolls to victory in the Furl Sail.

Private Gift comes off the best race of her career and on Saturday can win her first stakes in the $75,000 Truly Bound Breeders' Cup Handicap at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs.

There are eight fillies and mares in the 1 1/16-mile race, including Culinary, winner of the off-the-turf $75,000 Furl Sail last Saturday; Grade 2 winner La Reason; and Ballroom Deputy, a Grade 3 winner last out at Woodbine who is highweighted at 119 pounds.

enters the Truly Bound off a win in an $80,000 optional claiming allowance at Churchill Downs, which was her first start following minor throat surgery. That 1 1/16-mile race was run Nov. 13, and Private Gift stalked the pace from her rail post and went on to a half-length win over Culinary, who in her next start won the Furl Sail.

Private Gift will break from the rail again on Saturday.

"Post position doesn't really matter with her that much," said Neil Howard, who trains Private Gift. "She's usually away from there pretty comfortably. She usually gets a nice position. She's got a little tactical speed, but yet she still is able to save something for the end."

Private Gift is a 3-year-old daughter of Unbridled, winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1990. Her dam is Private Status, a stakes winner who has produced both Alumni Hall, a Grade 3 winner of $615,571, and millionaire Secret Status, who won the Kentucky Oaks in 2000.

Howard also trained Secret Status.

"She's kind of reminiscent of the family," he said of Private Gift. Comparing her with Secret Status, he added, "She's kind of a long, leggy type of filly - big stride."

Robby Albarado has the mount on Private Gift, who races for her breeders, the partnership of Farish, Elkins, and Webber. She is the first starter of the Fair Grounds meet for Howard, a New Orleans regular who this winter is based at Oaklawn Park.

, winner of the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher in 2004, will be making her third start back from a layoff, and she comes into the Truly Bound on the heels of a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. Trainer David Vance has given the mount to Corey Lanerie.

is looking for her second straight stakes win at the meet after rolling to a 4 1/2-length win in the Furl Sail. Trainer Michael Stidham has given the mount to Carlos Marquez Jr.

* There is no racing Sunday in observance of Christmas Day. There will be a special Wednesday card Dec. 28.