12/15/2011 2:49PM

Gulfstream: Trickmeister begins comeback in Harlan's Holiday


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. − The much anticipated return of the undefeated Trickmeister will finally happen at Gulfstream on Saturday, when he makes his first start in nearly 16 months in the $60,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes.

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Harlan’s Holiday came up very strong for an overnight stakes, also luring multiple graded stakes winner Duke of Mischief and steadily improving 3-year-old I’m Steppin’ It Up. The eight-horse field includes Trickmeister’s uncoupled stablemate, Boys At Tosconova, although he is not likely to start.

“I want to run Trickmeister,” trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said. “ ‘Boys’ is only in there in case something happens to Trickmeister.”

Unraced at 2, Trickmeister won all four of his starts last year at 3. He won the first three races, including Delaware Park’s Barbaro, for trainer Cindy Jones before being purchased privately by the IEAH Stables and turned over to Dutrow in the summer of 2010. After dominating the Pleasant Colony at Saratoga by nearly a dozen lengths, he went to the sidelines shortly after with the first of a series of injuries.

“He had cannon bone issues following the race at Saratoga, then suffered a cracked tibia after we put him back in training again here last winter,” Dutrow said. “But he’s been in a zone since he’s come back from his second layoff.”

Trickmeister capped a series of solid works by going six furlongs in 1:13 from the gate Sunday.

Trickmeister has never been headed at any call in his first four starts, although Dutrow said he doesn’t think Trickmeister has to be in front to be effective.

“I don’t know the horse that well in a race,” Dutrow said. “The only time we ran him, there was no speed in the race, he came out of the gate the right way, and took the lead. I guess he wouldn’t have any problem with it if he had to chase somebody. He’s a very professional horse, but if he breaks good Saturday I can see him in front again, and I’m not going to stop that from happening.”

As for where Trickmeister might be headed next, Dutrow said: “I’ll let you know at the quarter pole.”

Duke of Mischief returns from a much briefer freshening. He has been idle since finishing 10th after a wide trip in the Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 6. Duke of Mischief won the $1 million Charlestown Classic and also finished fourth while beaten two lengths in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster earlier this season. Overall, Duke of Mischief has banked nearly $1.7 million.

“He pulled a muscle in his back in the Whitney, so we just gave him a little time and freshened him up after he got back home,” trainer David Fawkes Jr. said. “He’s training excellent and looks fabulous, but he may be a work short on Saturday. We’ll just take him back, let him settle, and see what happens.”

I’m Steppin’ It Up will have to do just that taking on older stakes horses for the first time in his 3-year-old finale. I’m Steppin’ It up has won each of his last two starts, including the rich Kent Stakes, which was switched from the turf to the main track early this fall at Delaware.

Completing the field are Our Dark Knight, who proved no match for Trickmeister when the pair first met last summer in the Pleasant Colony; Zimmer; Sky Venture; and Decaf Again.


Harlan's Holiday S., Post Time: 4:45 ET Saturday

Purse: $60,000; 1 1/16 miles





ML Odds


Our Dark Knight

N. Zito

E. Trujillo



Duke of Mischief

D. Fawkes

J. Bravo




R. Dutrow, Jr.

J. Castellano



I'm Steppin' It Up

A. Pecoraro

J. Rose




P. Byrne

J. Castanon



Boys At Tosconova

R. Dutrow, Jr.

M. Madrid



Sky Venture

C. Paul

J. Leyva



Decaf Again

B. Rose

D. Centeno