Gulfstream Park outside Miami is the place to be this Saturday for a card of major graded stakes racing, highlighted by the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes for 3-year-old thoroughbreds and older.
2016 Harlan's Holiday Stakes
Famed trainer Todd Pletcher is expected to have multiple entries in this race in an effort to post one last big victory before the end of the 2016 season. While the final field for Saturday's top race at Gulfstream has yet to be set, I have singled out a trio of probable horses that would be my top play in a trifecta bet.
Harlan's Holiday Stakes is a Grade 3 event for 3-year-old thoroughbreds and up with a total prize purse of $100,000. It will be contested on the dirt track at Gulfstream Park over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
Pletcher's top entry in this race would be Keen Ice, and this 4-year old Kentucky-bred colt moves to the top of my list as well given his third-place finish last month in this the Breeders' Cup Classic behind winner Arrogate and California Chrome. It was just the second time that Keen Ice finished in the money in five previous races this season, but he still comes in as the class of the field when it comes to all the probable entries for Saturday's race.
Going back to Keen Ice's track record as a 3-year old, he won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga before placing fourth in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic. This pedigree of Curlin is currently ranked 50th by Horse Racing Nation with a rating of 8.07.
I would have to go with another Pletcher-trained colt as my second choice Saturday with Tommy Macho also listed as a probable entry. His current HRN ranking comes in at No. 72 and his rating stands at 7.94. This Kentucky-bred 4-year old is coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont on Oct. 8 over a distance of 1 mile. He may be better suited for the added distance of this race considering some of his best runs have been at longer distances. Last season, he placed third in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park at a longer distance of 1 1/8 miles.
He remained idle as a juvenile, and starting as a 3-year old Tommy Macho has placed in the money in six of eight total events over the course of his two-year racing career. His biggest career victory came in this year's Grade 3 Fred H. Hooper Handicap at Gulfstream on Feb. 6.
Moving down the list of possible entries, I would add trainer Eddie Plesa Jr's Awesome Slew to the mix to round out my trifecta play. He is not one of the higher-rated horses in the field at 6.67, but this 3-year old Florida-bred colt should feel right at home racing at Gulfstream. He has raced four times this season with a pair of finishes in the money. Before fading to fifth in the 2016 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 24, he took first place in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes at that same track over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. He also placed third in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes on June 19 at Monmouth Park at that very same distance. He is a pedigree of Awesome Again with a progeny that can be traced all the way back to Seattle Slew.