08/11/2005 12:00AM

So Gifted heads east for turf sprint shot

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - So Gifted is an interesting new face in the $55,000 Sneakbox Stakes Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The five-furlong Sneakbox on the turf attracted many of the leading grass sprinters in the region. So Gifted will ship in from Kentucky for trainer Grant Hofmans following a pair of excellent grass sprints in the Midwest.

So Gifted was a seven-length allowance winner on June 23 at Churchill Downs and followed that with a second-place finish in the Smile Stakes at Arlington Park.

In both races, So Gifted dictated the pace. He was beaten only a half-length in the Smile.

Hofmans shipped to New Jersey because of limited turf-sprint options near his Churchill Downs training base.

"Ellis Park had a race last weekend, and it was really tough for not much money," Hofmans said. "Arlington doesn't have another one until closing day."

, who was gelded before his season debut at Churchill in May, has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 starts this year. The 4-year-old was only 1 for 5 last season.

"He obviously likes the grass a whole lot more than the dirt," Hofmans said. "And gelding really helped him."

So Gifted was slated to arrive on Friday morning and will bed down in the D. Wayne Lukas barn.

, who has not won since last year's 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Oceanport Handicap, returns to Monmouth for the first time since that victory.

Multiple stakes winners resume their rivalry. They dead-heated for the win in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in March and clashed again in Monmouth's off-the-turf John McSorley Stakes on July 10, when Tacirring took charge early and held off Choose by 1 1/4 lengths.

Tacirring has won three in a row, all stakes. In addition to the McSorley, he also captured the Ben Cohen at Pimlico and the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap at Penn National.