Gifted Justice surprises in Hillsdale Stakes

A new star emerged at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Wednesday, Sept. 14, winning one of four stakes races on the card. Gifted Justice and Jockey Declan Cannon rolled to victory in the two-year-old Indiana bred stakes, the 16th running of the $100,000-added Hillsdale Stakes.

Gifted Justice stretches out for Jockey Declan Cannon in the $100,000-added Hillsdale Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Gifted Justice stretches out for Jockey Declan Cannon in the $100,000-added Hillsdale Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post four, Gifted Justice used his quick foot early and sprung out of the gate on top. The chestnut son of Haynesfield, a $100,000 purchase at the Keeneland Yearling Sales last fall, held onto the top spot with authority and was not going to relinquish it without a fight. There were no challengers past the quarter pole in :22.68 seconds, and Gifted Justice kept up the swift pace.

Halfway through the turn of the six-furlong race, race favorite Ron and jockey Fernando De La Cruz came into focus and had momentum on their side for the stretch drive. However, Gifted Justice also had another gear left. The colt proved he was a fighter and dug in against the challenge by Ron, who was also digging in gamely. In the end, Gifted Justice got the advantage, winning by one and one-half lengths in a time of 1:10.07, a new stakes record for the Hillsdale Stakes. Ron was an easy second over Wing and Wheel and Leandro Goncalves, who maintained positioning inside for an easy third place finish.

“He (Gifted Justice) is very smooth and was running so easy,” said Cannon. “I did want to stretch his stamina today because he will go long. But after today, whatever he does this year will only make him better next year. He’s a nice horse with a bright future.”

Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing, (far left) joins Joyse Bannister of the Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development for the presentation of the trophy to Jockey Declan Cannon and Assistant Trainer Tammy Rowland-Johnston following their win with Gifted Justice in the Hillsdale Stakes. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing, (far left) joins Joyse Bannister of the Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development for the presentation of the trophy to Jockey Declan Cannon and Assistant Trainer Tammy Rowland-Johnston following their win with Gifted Justice in the Hillsdale Stakes. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Trained by former jockey Dane Kobiskie, Gifted Justice paid $19.40, $6.00 and $4.60 across the board. The victory was his second in a row for Paula, Kaitlin and Thomas Haughey’s PTK, LLC. He is now two for three lifetime with a bankroll in excess of $83,000.

Tammy Rowland-Johnston, assistant for Kobiskie, shipped the horse up to Indiana for the Hillsdale Stakes. The race was the first since late July for Gifted Justice, who proved the break from racing was just what he needed.

“We used his last race (a win by three and one-half lengths at Indiana Grand) as a prep for this race,” said Rowland-Johnston. “We were impressed with him off his last start and a lot of the other horses raced after that start, but Dane wanted to keep him fresh. Declan did a nice job riding him.”

The win also marked a first for Cannon. It was the first stakes win in the United States for the Irish born jockey who has been riding in North America since January. Now based in Kentucky, the jockey rides frequently on the Indiana circuit. He began his career in Ireland, but has ridden all over the world, including England, France, Qatar and Australia before coming to the United States.