08/06/2008 11:00PM

Harwood trio led by Dah Gift


AUBURN, Wash. - Dah Gift will take on five other juvenile fillies, two of them stablemates, in Saturday's $50,000 Knights Choice Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Trainer Doris Harwood will saddle three for the Knights Choice, but Dah Gift gets top billing off her impressive 5 1/4-length win over $20,000 maidens on July 12, when she sped five furlongs in 58.20 seconds under rider Seth Martinez.

Dah Gift is owned by Doo Dah Stable LLC, the nom du course for the partnership of Kenny Alhadeff and longtime Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association general manager Ralph Vacca. At Vacca's retirement dinner last fall, Alhadeff announced that he would purchase a horse to own in partnership with Vacca and pay all the bills associated with the horse. It would be Vacca's job to select the horse at last December's WTBA winter sale and to choose a trainer.

"I chose Doris as our trainer, and Doris and I worked together to select Dah Gift," Vacca said. "We each had about 40 horses on our lists to begin with, and we kept winnowing our lists down until we were left with this filly. We liked that she was by Polish Gift, because Doris had such great success with Margo's Gift, and we liked that she was an early foal out of a young mare. We were able to buy her for $12,000."

Vacca, who had helped to sell thousands of horses but had never before owned one, said he has enjoyed horse ownership.

"It has been a great experience for me," he said. "This filly gives me an excuse to come out to the track in the mornings, and I really enjoy watching her train and talking to all my friends. I feel we've been very lucky. The filly not only made it to the races, she actually won, and that was a big thrill. I can't even imagine what it will be like if she wins this stakes."

To win, Dah Gift will have to defeat Mimis Road Warrior, an impressive winner over $40,000 maidens last Saturday in her second career start.

"It's pretty quick back, but she seemed to come out of the race well and there aren't many opportunities to run her in a restricted stakes like this one," trainer Junior Coffey said. "We're going to take a shot."

The Knights Choice, like Sunday's Strong Ruler, is restricted to the progeny of stallions who were nominated for the Northwest Stallion Stakes in 2006.