Richard Otto Stables’ Illinois homebred Sir Anthony extended his win streak to four races with a rail-skimming trip from last and held off Grade 1-winning favorite Audible in the final yards for a half-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3).
The eighth running of the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday for 3-year-olds and up was the first of five graded-stakes worth $600,000 in purses on an 11-race program, anchored by the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the newly refurbished turf course.
Following the Harlan’s Holiday were a trio of $100,000 races for fillies and mares 3 and up – the six-furlong Sugar Swirl (G3) and one-mile Rampart (G3) on dirt and the My Charmer (G3) going one mile on the grass.
With Brian Hernandez Jr. up for trainer Anthony Mitchell, Sir Anthony ($53.80) completed the distance in 1:45.14 over a sloppy, sealed track for his second career stakes win and first in graded company.
Audible Second in Prep for Pegasus World Cup
Audible, winner of the Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park over the winter, held second by a length over Apostle, followed by Audible’s Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Village King and long shots Sightforsoreeyes and Minute Madness.
“I watched a few replays of this horse and over at Hawthorne they went slow the first three-quarters in a couple of his races and he was still able to close into them and run them down,” Hernandez said. “Today, I just kind of rode him like that. I figured if I got to the three-eighths pole in good shape, he’d punch home, and he did.
“My horse is an old pro and he’s shown that he doesn’t mind being [inside],” he added. “All the pressure was on Audible and we were just going to hopefully sneak up on him, and we were able to save all the ground and get through.”
Stablemates Sightforsoreeyes and Minute Madness ran first and second, respectively, through moderate fractions of 25.19 seconds for a quarter-mile and 49.80 for the half. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano moved Audible off the rail from their inside post, where the only horse they led through six furlongs in 1:13.50 was Sir Anthony.
Audible Not Good Enough
Castellano began asking Audible rounding the turn and swung to the far outside to launch a bid, while Hernandez stayed put with Sir Anthony to wait for an opening. It came once they straightened for home, forging a short lead and powering through the stretch as Audible fought to make up ground down the middle of the track.
Audible was making just his second start and first against graded competition since running third to eventual Triple Crown champion Justify in the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 5, using the Harlan’s Holiday as a prep for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) – North America’s richest Thoroughbred race – Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.
“He never really seemed like he fired. You hate to use the track as an excuse, but obviously it rained quite a bit and they sealed the track,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like he was just never really taking him there and handing the track the way we would have hoped … We just let Javier ride his race, but he was never really taking him. He had to kind of ask him to get into every position he tried to.”
Harlans Holiday Replay
Sir Anthony how owns five wins from 14 starts and pushed his career earnings over $200,000. It was the fourth graded-stakes win for Mitchell and first since Original Spin in the 2005 Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Lassie (G3).
“He’s been a promising young colt who took a while to figure it out, but now that he’s figured it out who knows where we go from here,” Mitchell said. “He ran a couple of races where it was like, ‘What’s going on?’ It just didn’t make sense, but ever since he won the [Bruce D. Memorial] at Arlington he’s just got progressively better and better.
“The owner, I’m so delighted for. He bred the horse and he’s been with me for a very long time and we’ve enjoyed a lot of success,” he added. “He predominately breeds Illinois-breds and we’ve done pretty good with them. But going ahead and beating the likes of Audible – that’s huge. I mean, I can’t put words to that.”