Updated on 09/16/2011 6:42AM

Booklet wires Holy Bull

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Booklet (center) turns for home under Eibar Coa on his way to victory in Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes. Harlan's Holiday (left) finished second.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hours after their 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos, made an uninspired seasonal debut, owner John Oxley and trainer John Ward were re-energized when Booklet stamped himself as their Derby hope for 2002.

Under a front-running ride from Eibar Coa, Booklet went gate to wire to win Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 * at Gulfstream Park by three-quarters of a length over 4-5 favorite Harlan's Holiday. It was 11 lengths back to Thiscannonsloaded, who nipped Nokoma by a head for third.

The race was marred by the fatal breakdown of Speedy Leon, who fractured his left shoulder during the running of the race and had to be euthanized.

Oxley, who earlier watched Monarchos finish third in allowance company, purchased Booklet privately from Philip Cohen and Steve Klesaris on New Year's Day. Initially, Ward said he was getting a useful 3-year-old, not necessarily a Derby candidate. But, Booklet, a son of Notebook, may be convincing Ward otherwise.

"I confirmed something,' Ward said, "this horse has a unique ability for a young horse to be able to sustain pace. He can get in that stride and he can finish. Eibar moved him at the three-eighths pole and he opened up and he was able to sustain the drive. I liked what I saw.'

Coa sent Booklet directly to the front and he was able to maintain a clear advantage through fractions of 23.98 seconds, 48.00, 1:12.84, 1:39.16 and completed the 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:46.16 despite drifting out through the stretch. He returned $9.40 to win.

"He always tries to drift out just a little bit, but today I know [Harlan's Holiday] is coming up on the outside so I let him drift out a little bit more,' said Coa, who has ridden Booklet to three straight wins.

Trainer Ken McPeek said he was pleased with Harlan's Holiday, a multiple stakes-winning juvenile, who was caught four wide around both turns under Tony D'Amico.

"This horse ate dirt in the race, he handled it like a pro and he's getting to that horse,' McPeek said. "He's going to improve off that, he got a good blow out of it.'

Both Booklet and Harlan's Holiday are expected to run back in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 16.

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