January 27, 2023

Skippylongstocking returns stylishly in Harlan’s Holiday; Frank’s Rockette, Sibelius roll in New Year’s Eve Gulfstream stakes

Skippylongstocking wins the Harlan's Holiday Stakes (Photo by Lauren King/Coglianese Photos)

Skippylongstocking concluded his three-year-old season on a strong note, and set himself up for a bid in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) four weeks later, by winning Saturday’s $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt tracked the pace in second, seized the lead on the far turn, and saved plenty for the final furlong, scoring by two lengths.

Irad Ortiz Jr. had the call on the 3.10-1 third choice for owner Daniel Alonso, and Skippylongstocking improved his career record to 14-4-1-3 when completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.76.

The tactical sophomore was making his first start since late September. Third in his graded stakes debut, April’s Wood Memorial (G2), Skippylongstocking followed with a fifth in the Preakness (G1) and a third in the Belmont (G1). He broke through with his initial stakes win in the West Virginia Derby (G3) in early August, but earned some time off after failing to fire in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) last time.

Skippylongstocking is eligible to keep showing more at age four.

Pioneer of Medina, who was off at 12-1 and established opening splits in :23.75 and :47.14 before giving way to Skippylongstocking and Simplification, re-rallied along the inside in deep stretch to edge Simplification by a neck for second. Simplification, who left the gate at 2.40-1, had no excuses after rallying from just off the pace to a threatening position at the top of the stretch.

It was two more lengths back to 6-5 favorite O’Connor, who came under a ride entering the far turn and never got involved in the action, and South Bend, Strike Hard, Cooke Creek, and Clapton completed the order of finish.

Bred in Kentucky by Brushy Hill LLC, Skippylongstocking was purchased for $37,000 at the 2021 OBS April two-year-old sale. He’s now earned $777,810. The Exaggerator colt is the second stakes winner from the War Chant mare Twinkling.

The Harlan’s Holiday highlighted a quartet of dirt stakes on the New Year’s Eve program at Gulfstream.

Mr. Prospector Stakes

Sibelius came on during the fall for Jeremiah O’Dwyer, recording a convincing win in the Lit the Fuse S. at Pimlico before a close fourth in the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland and a runner-up effort in the Bet on Sunshine S. at Churchill Downs, and the four-year-old gelding continued his progression with a convincing win in the $125,000 Mr. Prospector (G3) at seven furlongs.

It marked the first graded win for Sibelius, who was off as the 9-2 fourth choice among 12 sprinters, and the chestnut stalked in second with Junior Alvarado before advancing to overhaul pacesetter and 3-1 favorite Uncle Ernie nearing the completion of the far turn. Sibelius surged clear into the stretch, comfortably holding runner-up Dean Delivers safe by 2 1/4 lengths while stopping the teletimer in 1:23.04.

Jun H. Park and Nash Delta campaign the Kentucky-bred son of Not This Time, and Sibelius has now earned $443,689 from a 17-5-3-3 career line.

Dean Delivers, who finished second in the Swale (G2) and fifth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream earlier this season, offered a good run from just off the pace at 8-1 to be a clear second. Steal Sunshine rallied from far back for third, and he was followed by Uncle Ernie, County Final, Surly Furious, Prevalence, Seal Beach, No Que No, Speaking, and Wind of Change.

Sugar Swirl Stakes

Frank’s Rockette made short work of her five rivals in the $125,000 Sugar Swirl (G3), drawing off to a 12 1/4-length, wire-to-wire win. Runner-up in last year’s edition, the Frank Fletcher homebred mare notched her eighth overall stakes win, including three graded, and she’s bankrolled $1,224,805 from a 25-10-9-3 record.

Luis Saez was up for trainer Bill Mott on the 4-5 favorite, and Frank’s Rockette turned six furlongs in 1:09.63. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Into Mischief was exiting an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland, the only time from six starts in 2022 that the five-year-old didn’t finish first or second.

Frank’s Rockette captured the Pink Ribbon S. at Charles Town two starts previously, and she opened the year with runner-up efforts Carousel S. at Oaklawn, Vagrancy (G3) at Belmont, and Honorable Miss (G2) at Saratoga. The Kentucky-bred is out of the Grade 3-winning Indian Charlie mare Rocket Twentyone.

Joyful Cadence, Coppella, Restofthestory, and Edie Meeny Miny Mo rounded out the order.

Rampart Stakes

In the $125,000 Rampart S., Maryquitecontrary did not disappoint as the 9-10 favorite, decisively earning her first open stakes win. The up-and-coming sophomore filly swept past rivals to a clear lead in upper stretch, scoring by an easy 3 1/2-length margin, and Maryquitecontrary has now captured 6-of-7 career outings, the lone setback being a runner-up in July’s Azalea S. in her second start.

Maryquitecontrary, who opened her racing career in June, was exiting back-to-back triumphs in the restricted Sheer Drama S. and a handicap race. Joseph Catanese trains the Florida-bred daughter of First Dude for owner/breeder Rodney G. Lundock, and regular rider Luca Panici was up.

Colorful Mischief, the 2-1 second choice, wound up three lengths clear of Allworthy in third, and Music Star Star, Zainalarab, Soul of an Angel, and Indicia came next under the wire.

After winning three straight at seven furlongs, Maryquitecontrary stretched to a one-turn mile and was timed in 1:36.78. She’s out of the Mecke mare Mary Kate ‘N Kelly, a sister to three-time graded winner Supah Blitz, and the full siblings are out of the accomplished Grade 3-winning Boots ‘N Jackie.