Updated on 09/17/2011 9:59AM

Harlan's Holiday arrives


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The cream rose to the top.

It was hardly a surprise to see Harlan's Holiday take charge of Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap after straightening into the stretch. The 4-year-old colt by Harlan who has always run well at Gulfstream was a 2-1 favorite, despite drawing the outside post in a field of 11.

The best horse won the nine-furlong Donn by a convincing 2 1/2 lengths and Harlan's Holiday must now be regarded as a valuable addition to the relatively thin ranks of the handicap division. Under a deft ride by John Velazquez, he gave weight to all in a competitive situation and answered a number of questions.

"I was concerned about the post position," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It is so easy for something to go wrong in that kind of scenario, but he broke smartly and was able to get a position. He loves this track, and once his start was assured, he ran the race we thought he would. He made a big step forward today."

The Donn may have answered some questions but it raised a few new ones.

Having confirmed fine form, Harlan's Holiday is entitled to be considered for the rich Dubai World Cup in late March. But the threat of turmoil in the Middle East seems very real and all concerned are expressing caution.

"It is likely we'll wait a while before firming up our plans," Pletcher said. "The Santa Anita Handicap is coming up this weekend and the results could be a factor."

In turn, the plans for Harlan's Holiday could have a bearing on the $300,000 Gulfstream `Park Handicap on March 29. If the Donn winner is not sent to Dubai, the Gulfstream Park Handicap would be a tempting prize for him. If he leaves, it becomes a logical target for Hero's Tribute, who ran one of his best races to finish second in the Donn.

Another noteworthy development last weekend was the emergence of Yell as a leading light in the 3-year-old filly division.

A daughter of A.P. Indy out of Wild Applause by Northern Dancer, Yell was lightly raced last year at 2 but won both her starts this season, including Sunday's $150,000 Davona Dale, in exciting fashion.

"Yell stalked the pace in the Davona Dale, caught the front-running Ivanavinalot at the head of the stretch and then drew out to score by six lengths. John Velazquez, who had a big weekend, was in the saddle. The filly is owned and was bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

"This is a pretty good filly," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "We took our time with her last season because of her pedigree and she ran two good races in the fall. Last month I brought her down from Payson Park and she ran well here to beat Bird Town, who won a stakes just before the Davona Dale. We thought Yell would fit the Davona Dale and it worked out fine."

Yell is scheduled to make her next start in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss on March 14 and then will head to Keeneland for the Ashland Stakes. A good performance would undoubtedly earn her a berth in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on Derby eve.