Stanford Wires Field to Beat Stablemate Keen Ice in Harlan’s Holiday
The last time Stanford ran a race he finished 8th in the June 11 Met Mile at Belmont. More than six months later, the son of Malibu Moon showed super speed in going gate to wire to win the 1 1/16 mile $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The victory was Stanford’s third stakes win and worth $60,000 for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also had Keen Ice and Madeforlucky running and finishing 2nd and 4th respectively.
Under jockey John Velazquez, Stanford led at all calls and opened up a 3-length lead in the stretch before galloping home in a final time of 1:42.10. Stanford paid $5.60 to win as the 8-5 second choice with Keen Ice second ($3.00) by a head over Awesome Slew ($2.80).
“He broke really well and got to the first turn easy,” Velazquez added. “I just waited to see how he did on the lead. He did it really easy. He runs hard all the time. I see it the mornings, too. He was fresh and even when I asked him down the lane he wanted to run.”
Pletcher now has a pair of horses to consider for the upcoming $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Jan. 28. Keen Ice was the favorite in the Harlan’s Holiday, and while he finished second, he’ll be considered along with Stanford.
“I’ll talk to the connections … but Stanford and Keen Ice certainly ran well enough to consider the Pegasus.”
Stanford showed the kind of speed that helped him win the Charlestown Classic in April and a 2nd place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in March,.
“It looked pretty clear on paper that (Stanford) was the main speed of the race,” Pletcher said. “When he drew the rail, it was a pretty straightforward strategy. We wanted to come out running and hopefully, secure the lead going into the first turn. He was able to do that, and on top of that, the fractions were well within his comfort zone. So I thought it was terrific for him.”
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Stanford passed through the auction ring twice, selling for $100,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale before being pinhooked for $550,000 at the Barretts March 2-year-old sale.
Stanford now has 5 wins and 4 seconds in 13 starts with nearly $1.2 million in earnings.