Updated on 09/16/2011 8:00AM

Harlan's Holiday breaks through

Eleanor Gustaffson/Horsephotos
Harlan's Holiday, under Edgar Prado, sails home a 3 1/2-length winner in Saturday's Florida Derby. His rival Booklet was fourth.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Harlan's Holiday avenged his two setbacks at the hands of Booklet earlier this winter, rallying from off a blistering pace to score a 3 1/2-length victory over Blue Burner in the $1 million at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Booklet, who dueled through record-setting early fractions with Smooth Jazz, finished fourth in a field of 11 3-year-olds.

The victory gave trainer Ken McPeek, who trains Harlan's Holiday for owners Jack and Laurie Wolf, the first Grade 1 victory of his career.

Harlan's Holiday was the 8-5 favorite despite being defeated by Booklet in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth Stakes. He paid $5.40 after covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.80 over a fast track.

Jockey Edgar Prado, who replaced Tony D'Amico aboard Harlan's Holiday following his nose defeat in the Fountain of Youth, allowed Harlan's Holiday to rate off the embattled pacesetters, Booklet and Smooth Jazz. They dueled through an opening quarter and half mile in 22.47 seconds and 45.36, the fastest quarter- and half-mile splits in the 51 runnings of the race.

Booklet disposed of Smooth Jazz after six furlongs, but Harlan's Holiday was in full gear by then. He easily ran past Booklet approaching the five-sixteenths pole and quickly drew clear. Blue Burner, last after the opening half-mile, advanced boldly leaving the final turn. He proved no match for the winner through the stretch but was easily second best.

Peekskill, the longest price in the field at 96-1, rallied to finish a distant third followed by Booklet, Monthir, D'Coach, Nokoma, High Star, Puck, Smooth Jazz, and Personal Reward.

"My only concern was the pace, I didn't know how it would set up, but once he collared those other horses on the turn there was no doubt in my mind. Nobody was going to catch him," said McPeek.

McPeek said he would probably not decide until the end of the month what comes next for Harlan's Holiday or his other Kentucky Derby contender, Repent, the Louisiana Derby winner.

Trainer John Ward took Booklet's defeat in stride.

"[Booklet] was too keen and went too fast and he has to learn not to do that," said Ward. "Now we know what we have to go work on in the morning and when we go to the Blue Grass."