Gulfstream Park offers a very nice day of races today, with the GR 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes being one of several Stakes races on the card. In post position order:
- 2-1 Stanford :1 Best. Layoff. He is returning after a 6 month layoff after being demolished by Frosted (like everyone else) in the Met Mile. He posted that 3.1 Best one race before in a solid gate to wire effort in a GR 2 at Charlestown. This is the first of 3 Pletcher runners, and with Velazquez aboard, the connections are as good as it gets. I do note with interest that regular rider Castellano ends up on another Pletcher horse, Keen Ice. Stanford figures to push the early pace, and if ready, he is dangerous!
- 3-1 Madefromlucky:1 Best. Layoff. Here is the second Pletcher runner, who is also coming off a lengthy layoff. His 4.1 Best is a tad slower than Stanford. Saez, who has solid stats takes the mount, while I do note that, in a game of musical jocks, Velazquez ends up on Stanford. Will need to fire fresh.
- 40-1 Joshua’s Comprise: 9 Best. Even pattern. He has never run a race to be competitive with these, and his pattern is not positive. Connections have been having a rough year. Would be a surprise.
- 6-1 Awesome Slew: 7 Best. One race regression after short layoff. He improved a whopping 7.5 points in posting that quick 3.7 Best in an excellent Gate to Wire score in a GR 3 at Parx in early September. Coming back in less than 3 weeks, it is not surprising that he bounced, although the regression was mild to a 5.5. His connections have solid stats, and he has been given nearly 3 months to recoup. As a 3YO, it is still likely that he could improve more. I am concerned that the pace will be hot in here. Nevertheless, I expect him to run very well!
- 15-1 Hy Riverside:3 Best. Rest then Best pattern. This guy has shown steady improvement over his last several races, including posting that 7.3 Best after a 2 ½ month layoff. Connections have solid 2016 stats, but have had a rough GP meet so far. I like the pattern; however, he will need a big step forward.
- 9-5 Keen Ice: 3.0 Best (extended card). Long Circle Back pattern. The third of the Pletcher runners is the tepid morning line favorite. You have to go back to August of last year when posted his 0 Best in taking the measure of American Pharoah and Frosted in the GR 1 Travers at 1 ¼ Mile. After a couple of modest efforts in Dubai, Pletcher freshened him for 6 months and he returned, posting a 7.7. He then came back in the BC Classic to run a distant 3rd, but posted an improving 4.8. That race stamps him as a Circle Back horse. With a solid pace in here, I expect him to be picking them up late, and as noted, this is where Castellano ends up. My top pick!
- 30-1 Applicator:4 Best. Circle Back pattern. This 3YO has done most of his running on the Turf. He recently returned from a 3 month layoff to post an improving 12.2, which stamps him as a Circle Back horse. Connections have modest stats. He needs a big step forward.
It looks to me like Keen Ice is primed for a big effort. I also expect Awesome Slew to run well.