Harlan's Holiday Stakes Tops Saturday Racing Action at Gulfstream
The Gulfstream Park Championship Meet showcases top-notch racing all winter long, and the upcoming December 16th card—featuring five graded stakes races—is no exception.The first stakes on the card is the $100,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at a mile for fillies and mares, in which the Gulfstream sensation Curlin’s Approval (7-for-10 at the track) will seek to rebound from a 13th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). She’s already won four graded stakes races at Gulfstream this year, but many of her best runs have come at seven furlongs; if she finds the Rampart distance a furlong too long, then the three-time graded stakes winner Lewis Bay—third in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), but running for the first time in over a year—could be an upset candidate.
Dearest, another Gulfstream specialist with a 4-for-7 record over the track, should start as the favorite in the $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes (gr. III), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. In terms of speed figures, she holds a meaningful edge over her eight rivals, and while she hasn’t run since July, she did win this race by a length in 2016, one of three stakes wins she has recorded at Gulfstream.
The racing will shift to turf for the $100,000 My Charmer Stakes (gr. III), a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Trainer Shug McGaughey holds a strong hand with On Leave, winner of the 2016 Sands Point Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park and a consistent competitor against tough company at this distance. But she’s not the only experienced stakes competitor in the My Charmer field; Stormy Victoria was beaten just a neck in a fast renewal of the Powder Break Stakes over this course and distance back in April, and Defiant Honor showcased a strong stretch kick when winning the one-mile Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga during the summer.
The $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (gr. III) is arguably the highlight of the card. Nine veteran stakes competitors will face off going 8.5 furlongs on the main track, including the inconsistent but brilliant Mr. Jordan, who enters off an 11-length romp in the Millions Classic Preview Stakes at Gulfstream Park West. Destin, runner-up in the 2016 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will represent the always-competitive Todd Pletcher stable, while the seven-year-old fan favorite Page McKenney—winner of 20 of his 52 starts—will try to end his 2017 season with a fifth stakes win.
Rounding out the stakes action is the $100,000 Tropical Turf Stakes (gr. III) at a mile on turf. The remarkably deep and competitive field includes the 2016 Woodbine Mile (gr. I) runner-up Tower of Texas and the four-time graded stakes winner Camelot Kitten, but they’ll be joined by the Pletcher-trained All Included, winner of the Appleton Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream last April, as well as the multiple graded stakes winner Blacktype and the speedy Shakhimat.
Post time for the first race of the day is 12:00 p.m. Eastern.