12/17/2016 7:58PM

Stanford never looks back in Harlan's Holiday

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Andie Biancone
Stanford, yellow silks, could run in the Pegasus in January, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher continued his torrid start to the 2016-17 Gulfstream Park Championship meet, winning his sixth stakes in the past week as Stanford led start to finish in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday for a three-comfortable-length win over stablemate and tepid favorite Keen Ice.

Pletcher, who won four stakes here last Saturday, had sent out Eskenformoney to win the Grade 3 Rampart earlier on Saturday’s card.

Harlan’s Holiday broke alertly from his inside post under jockey John Velazquez, went right to the front, set realistic fractions, and had plenty left in the tank to readily turn back a final bid from Keen Ice. The latter was hung wide while kept closer than usual during the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday, continuing on gamely down the stretch to finish second, a neck in front of Awesome Slew.

Madefromlucky, the third member of Pletcher’s potent arsenal in the race, checked briefly while tiring near midstretch and finished fourth in a field of seven older horses. He was followed across the wire by Hy Riverside and Joshua’s Comprise. Applicator was eased in the stretch.

The win was the second in just five starts this season for Stanford, a son of Malibu Moon, who had captured the rich Charlestown Classic in April and had not raced since finishing well back in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on June 11. He paid $5.60.

“It looked pretty clear on paper he was the main speed of the race,” Pletcher said. “He drew the rail and it was pretty straightforward strategy. We wanted to come out running, hopefully secure the lead into the first turn. He was able to do that and on top of that, the fractions were well within his comfort zone. So I thought it was terrific for him. It kind of worked against Keen Ice a little bit, but despite that, I thought he ran pretty well to be second. Javier tried to keep him a little closer because of the slow fractions and the way the track’s playing, and he ran pretty well considering that.”

Pletcher acknowledged that both the $12 million Pegasus and the $400,000 Poseidon on Jan. 28 would be under consideration for all three of his Harlan’s Holiday runners.

“Maybe the Poseidon for Madeforlucky,” he said. “I’ll talk to all three connections. I thought Stanford and Keen Ice certainly ran well enough to certainly consider the Pegasus.”