09/24/2010 4:56PM

Close finish in Turf Monster bodes well for Elusive Gift, Towzee

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Until this past May, Elusive Gift had not raced on turf in nearly two years, when he was still a maiden after three starts. Two years ago is also the last time the New Zealand import Towzee won a race.

Three weeks ago, however, the prospects for both turf sprinters suddenly improved when they were involved in a blanket finish in the $250,000 Turf Monster Handicap to finish within 1 1/2 lengths of the multiple stakes winner Chamberlain Bridge, a Breeders’ Cup Sprint candidate.

The 5-year-old Elusive Gift and the 8-year-old Towzee figure to be prominent players in Monday’s featured ninth race at Parx Racing, a fourth-level allowance that is also open to $50,000 claimers going five furlongs on the grass.

Elusive Gift, based at Delaware Park with trainer Tony Dutrow, showed new signs of life when he won back-to-back turf sprints in restricted stakes at Colonial Downs in late May and mid-July. Given nearly two months off, Elusive Gift returned to battle to within a head of the lead with an eighth of a mile remaining in the five-furlong Turf Monster before getting swallowed up by the closers. Although he finished sixth, Elusive Gift was just 1 1/2 lengths behind Chamberlain Bridge and matched his career high Beyer Speed Figure on turf with a 94.

Towzee, locally based with trainer Randy Allen, came into this season 1 for 8 in the United States, the lone victory coming in May 2008 going six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s turf course. After a prep race on dirt in early May, Towzee responded with two good efforts on turf, finishing second with identical Beyers of 88.

Most recently, he rallied despite encountering traffic in the stretch to finish fourth in the Turf Monster, just three-quarters of a length behind Chamberlain Bridge, at odds of 37-1. He is the only one in the field of eight not in for the optional $50,000 claiming tag.

Monday’s race also attracted minor stakes winners El Churruca and Secretintelligence.

El Churruca, winner of the Mr. Jenney Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds a year ago, returned from an 11-month layoff to run second in that same stakes on Sept. 11.

Secretintelligence, a four-time stakes winner on dirt, is 0 for 4 on turf, but did miss by just a neck in the Mo Bay Stakes at Delaware Park two years ago and was second with a 91 Beyer the last time he ran on grass in May 2009.