04/03/2002 1:00AM

Ohio honors Harlan's Holiday


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Harlan's Holiday, winner of the Florida Derby last month and a top Kentucky Derby prospect, was named the 2001 Ohio Horse of the Year and 2-year-old divisional champ Saturday by the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners.

Trained by Ken McPeek, Harlan's Holiday won his maiden in the Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes here at Thistledown. Harlan's Holiday, owned by Starlight Stable, became the all-time leading money winner among Ohio-breds on March 16 by winning the $1 million Florida Derby and raising his earnings to just more than $1 million.

Another Ohio-bred 3-year-old, U S S Tinosa, owned by Peter Abruzzo and Barry Thiriot, also is pointing for the Kentucky Derby, and had it not been for Harlan's Holiday, he may well have taken down the honors in Ohio. No Ohio-bred horse has won the Kentucky Derby since Wintergreen in 1909.

Other Ohio divisional champs include Joanies Bella, 2-year old filly; Unbridled Time, 3-year old colt; and Ashwood CC, 3-year old filly. Majestic Dinner was named top handicap horse, Lady Cherie top handicap mare, and John Q's Winner and Down Thepike Mike, sprint co-champions.

Rider Mike Rowland and trainer Rodrigo Madrigal Sr. started fast as the Thistledown opened last week.

Rowland rode five winners Saturday, and had won seven of the meet's first 16 races through Tuesday. Madrigal saddled three of the eight winners on Saturday.