March 22, 2018

Keen Ice leads Pletcher trio in Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park

Keen Ice wins the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, August 29 (NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Five stakes are on tap at Gulfstream Park Saturday, headed by a trio of $100,000 Grade 3 contests.

The Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) actually rounds out the graded action as the 7TH race. Seven colts and geldings were entered in the 1 1/16-mile event, including the Todd Pletcher-trained triumvirate of Stanford, Madefromlucky and Keen Ice.

The latter runner, who gained fame for defeating Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (G1), is coming out of a third-place effort behind Arrogate and California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Keen Ice is still looking for his first win of 2016 and keeps jockey Javier Castellano in the irons.

Madefromlucky is also seeking to earn a win before 2016 departs. The chestnut colt will be making only his fourth start this season in this spot, having run eighth in the Donn Handicap (G1), third in the Stymie Stakes and a half-length second in the Excelsior Stakes (G3). That latter race came in early April, and the dual Grade 2 winner gets Luis Saez holding the reins for the first time.

Stanford was last seen running off-the-board in the June 11 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) but before that wired the Charles Town Classic (G2) by two lengths in late April. John Velazquez has the call aboard the Kentucky-bred, who is the only Pletcher trainee in this field with a win on the year.

The black-type action gets underway in the 4TH race when six fillies and mares line up for the Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3).

Multiple Grade 2 heroine and Grade 1-placed Stonetastic is the top draw in the six-furlong affair. The Kelly Breen trainee exits a 2 3/4-length wire job in the Pumpkin Pie Stakes at Belmont Park on October 30 and keeps regular rider Paco Lopez aboard.

Dearest returns in this spot after finishing a half-length second in the Prioress Stakes (G2) on September 4 at Saratoga. Conditioned by Gilberto Zerpa, the chestnut miss recorded easy back-to-back stakes wins at Gulfstream Park over the summer. Edgard Zayas retains the mount.

One race later, seven distaffers go a mile in the Rampart Stakes (G3), including Curlin’s Approval, Genre and Eskenformoney.

Curlin’s Approval captured the Added Elegance Stakes two back and ran fourth in the seven-furlong Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland most recently on October 22. The Marty Wolfson pupil gets Emisael Jaramillo back in the saddle while stretching out past seven furlongs for the first time here.

Eskenformoney was a contender on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail last year, placing in a slew of preps, but has yet to earn a stakes victory. The multiple Grade 2-placed miss just finished third, well back of the top two, in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) on October 29 and will try to rebound here for Pletcher and Castellano.

Genre has faced off against stablemate Eskenformoney previously, including capturing the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) by a neck over her rival in July. The four-year-old lass, who would go on to take the Lady Jacqueline Stakes and finish third in the Spinster Stakes (G1), gets Velazquez aboard Saturday.

The other two stakes – the El Prado Stakes and South Beach Stakes – are each worth $100,000 and take place at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

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