Utilizing a rail-skimming ride from Brian Hernandez Jr., Sir Anthony closed last-to-first to deny 1-9 favorite Audible by a half-length and spring a 25-1 upset in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Anthony Mitchell trains the Illinois-bred son of Mineshaft for owner/breeder Richard Otto Stables and the three-year-old ridgling has now won four straight, racing exclusively at Arlington and Hawthorne prior to Saturday.
The 1 1/16-mile event was contested over a sloppy track and many expected Audible to make short work of his five rivals in a prep for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) on January 26. He traveled wide throughout, rating in fifth through the opening three-quarters, and grinded his way toward the front after coming under a ride on the far turn from Javier Castellano.
Audible had every chance in the short stretch, but Sir Anthony cut the corner to take a short lead in upper stretch and carried his momentum to the wire. The winner trailed during the early stages and launched his move midway on the far turn. Now three-for-four on off tracks, Sir Anthony stopped the teletimer in 1:45.14.
“We had a great trip,” Hernandez said. “We were able to work our way to the fence from the six-hole. 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. 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). 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.”
“He kind of struggled a little bit with the track,” Castellano said of Audible. “They sealed the track at the last minute. It was not an easy track. I think it kind of cost me the race a little bit.”
Third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Audible posted impressive wins in the Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park earlier this season for Todd Pletcher.
“He never really seemed like he fired,” Pletcher said. “You hate to use the track as an excuse, but obviously it rained quite a bit and they sealed the track. Javier said up the backside it was pretty uneven; there were dry spots and wet spots. It seemed like he was just never really taking him there handing the track the way we would have hoped.
“I think the track has changed since the previous meet. They made some adjustments to it and I think it’s still settling in a little bit. I don’t think he really handled it. We didn’t know what everyone else was going to do. 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.”
Sir Anthony has now earned $202,220 from a 14-5-2-2 record. A maiden winner in his third start, the chestnut dropped his next seven attempts before posting a two-length decision in the August 11 Bruce D. Memorial on Arlington’s Polytrack. Sir Anthony followed with a restricted allowance tally at Hawthorne on October 5 and was exiting a 2 ¾-length score in an open allowance/optional claimer on November 1.
“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 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.
“I said to Brian going out, ‘Brian, believe in this horse. This horse has got two gears. One will take you there and one will put you in front if we’re good enough.’
Sir Anthony hails from the multiple stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Mourette.
Apostle wound up a length behind Audible in third and was followed under the wire by Village King, pacesetter Sightforsoreeyes and Minute Madness.