July 14, 2024

O’Connor edges Grand Aspen in Harlan’s Holiday

OConnor wins the Harlan Holiday at Gulfstream Park
OConnor wins the Harlan Holiday at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Lauren King)

O’Connor will head into next month’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) in much better shape than he did 12 months ago, following a head victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The second choice under Tyler Gaffalione, O’Connor rallied up the inside in the short stretch to just deny 10-1 chance Grand Aspen by a neck. It was an improvement over O’Connor’s performance in last year’s Harlan’s Holiday, in which he finished fourth to stablemate Skippylongstocking as a 6-5 favorite. He later finished 11th of 12 in the Pegasus World Cup.

“He’s doing what we thought he could do,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “Distance is going to be better for him.”

Owned by Michael Iavarone, Julia Iavarone, and Fernando Vine Ode, O’Connor returned $9.20 after completing 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.80.

Joseph also trains pacesetter and third-place finisher Ny Traffic, who was followed by Steal Sunshine, Octane, Dubyuhnell, Blue Devil, 2.90-1 favorite Gasoline, Lure Him In, and Miles D.

The Harlan’s Holiday was the second consecutive win for O’Connor, who captured the Oct. 28 Fayette (G2) at Keeneland by a head. He also placed in the Ghostzapper (G3), West Virginia Governor’s (G3), and Charles Town Classic (G2) earlier this season.

Although the Fayette was O’Connor’s first graded win in the U.S., he had been a top-level performer in his native Chile, where he was voted Horse of the Year for 2021-22. His signature win there was the Gran Premio Latinoamericano over 1 1/4 miles in April 2022.

Bred by Haras Carioca, O’Connor was sired by Boboman and produced by Torrente de Agua, a daughter of Touch Gold. This female family also produced the Grade 1-winning mare Hystericalady.

Earlier in the card, Maryquitecontrary defended her title in the $150,000 Rampart S., posting a one-length victory in the one-mile test for fillies and mares. Under Luca Panici, Maryquitecontrary completed the course in 1:38.16 and paid $4.60 as the 13-10 favorite.

A homebred racing for Rodney Lundock and trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., Maryquitecontrary is a four-year-old filly by First Dude. In addition to her repeat success in the Rampart, Maryquitecontrary won the Inside Information (G2) in January and also finished second in the Madison (G1) and Princess Rooney (G3) during the season.