07/14/2010 5:23PM

Elusive Gift tops Punch Line

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A Reel Buster dominated the Punch Line Stakes two years ago and missed by a neck in his bid for a repeat last summer. Nevertheless, the now 7-year-old A Reel Buster figures to be one of the outsiders Saturday when he makes his third consecutive appearance in the $50,000 Punch Line, a five-furlong turf sprint restricted to Virginia-breds.

In his lone start this season, A Reel Buster finished ahead of only one horse in the 5 1/2-furlong John Marsh Stakes on May 29. But he was making his first start in nine months that day and got bumped at the start, so A Reel Buster could run much better in the second start of his form cycle.

The clear-cut favorite, however, is Elusive Gift, who is listed at 3-5 on the track’s morning line. In his first start against statebreds, Elusive Gift held on by a neck in the John Marsh as the 3-5 favorite. The 84 Beyer Speed Figure he earned is by far the best last-race number among the nine horses in Saturday’s field.

That’sthequestion takes another crack at Elusive Gift after coming from ninth to finish third, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in the John Marsh.

The other intriguing entrant is Jake Rattle N Roll, the defending Punch Line champion. Although 5 for 9 lifetime on turf, including three wins at Colonial, Jake Rattle N Roll dropped all the way down the class ladder to $5,000 for his most recent start. He was claimed out of that race, a win on May 31 that produced a modest 73 Beyer, by trainer John Secor.