Nine Horses Ready for the Holiday
By: Laurie Ross, IMTBreds
The Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes was named in honor of a colt who captured the Florida Derby and Donn stakes at Gulfstream Park and evolved into a successful sire. His sons at stud include Into Mischief, Majesticperfection, and Champion juvenile Shanghai Bobby.
Nine older horses are set to contest the 2017 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes.
Five of the nine horses entered in the 1 1/16 dirt race are graded stakes winners, but all share the trait of hit or miss when it comes to finding the winners circle.
Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez team up with Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2) hero DESTIN. The pretty gray colt placed in his only start at Gulfstream way back in 2015. Destin has had a good/bad race cycle going since August, and he’s gearing up for a “good” race. Destin is the 5/2 morning line favorite for the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes.
FEAR THE COWBOY has hit the board at Gulfstream Park in each of the five times he’s stepped foot on the track. He captured the Skip Away Stakes (G3) last march. The Efren Loza, Jr. trainee hit a career-best speed figure of 105 (Brisnet) last time out, with a 13 point jump. Most horses that have a speed figure rise of ten points or higher often regress in their next race. The bay horse has been a steady earner, finishing off the board only three times in his last ten starts. He’s been installed at 7-2 morning line and top jock Javier Castellano, Destin’s regular rider last year, will pilot FEAR THE COWBOY.
The most consistent runner in the field is PAGE MCKENNEY. The Marry Eppler trainer has finished off the board only twice in his last ten outings and followed up with a visit to the winner's circle. The Chestnut gelding placed in his only start at Gulfstream. At 6-1 morning line, he’s an enticing longshot but will most likely enter the starting gate at lower odds.
MR. JORDAN is a Jeckyll/Hyde horse. Which one will show up today? There are no close calls with this guy. When he wins, MR. JORDAN dominates the field. When he loses, a search party is sometimes needed to find him. Conditioned by Eddie Plesa, Jr., the pretty gray horse won his last start by eleven lengths at Calder…er.. Gulfstream Park West, but in his previous three starts at Gulfstream, MR. JORDAN wandered across the finish line sometime after happy hour. He’s never won at Gulfstream but has hit the board in four of eight attempts. His morning line odds are 4-1.
RICHARD THE GREAT is 4-9 at Gulfstream. The sprinter stretched out in his last start, and finished second to Mr. Jordan, beating the third-place horse by a convincing 1 1/4 lengths. Top Florida trainer Stanley Gold is giving the bay gelding a shot in the graded stakes league and the rail position suits RICHARD THE GREAT’s running style. At 10-1 morning line, RICHARD THE GREAT is an interesting longshot.
FLATLINED is a turf horse, but after two bullet works over the Gulfstream dirt, trainer Charles Dickey decided on a surface switch. The bay gelding won once in seven tries over the dirt. He faced three rivals in a $40K optional claimer that had originally been scheduled for the turf. FLATLINED loves the Gulfstream turf. The dirt? Not so much. His closing running style means that he’ll get a lot of dirt in the face and that, rather than surface switch, is often the reason turf horses work well on dirt, but can’t transfer their form. His morning line odds of 6-1 will likely drift higher come post time.
CONQUEST BIG E, FRAMMENTO, and JOSHUA'S COMPRISE have difficulty handling optional claimers when in top form. They appear overmatched here.
Todd Pletcher has won the Leading Trainer title at Gulfstream Park a dozen times. Sure, Destin could be the automatic win pick, but where’s the fun and money in that?
#5 PAGE MCKENNEY (6-1)
#3 DESTIN (5-2)
#7 FEAR THE COWBOY (7-2)
#1 RICHARD THE GREAT (10-1)
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$2.00 Superfecta box: #5, #3, #7, #1 = $24
$1.00 Trifecta key: #3/#5, #7, #1/#5, #7, #1, #2 = $24
#5/#3, #7, #1/#3, #7, #1 #2 = $24
#7/#3, #5 #7, #1/#3, #5 #7, #1 #2 = $24
$2.00 W/P bet odds 4-1 or higher: #5 = $4