Shockwaves are still reverberating through the breeding community at the loss of Harlan's Holiday. Euthanized Nov. 1 at Argentina's Haras Firmamento, the stallion was only 14 and was one of the most popular standing in Kentucky, serving 187 mares during the 2013 Northern Hemisphere season.
Harlan's Holiday earned his way to prominence as both a racehorse and a sire. Bred in Ohio by Double D Farm Corporation, he was sired by 1994 Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) winner Harlan (Storm Cat—Country Romance, by Halo). Harlan died when only 10 but, though overshadowed by more precocious sons of Storm Cat during his breeding career, sired a respectable six stakes winners (four graded) from his 98 named foals. Harlan's other top performer was multiple grade I winner Menifee (out of 1999 Broodmare of the Year Anne Campbell, by Never Bend), sire of grade I winner Game Face in the U.S. and the leading sire in Korea for 2012.
Harlan's Holiday is out of Christmas in Aiken, a winning daughter of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, whose daughters have produced 125 stakes winners to date. Her dam, the Honest Pleasure mare Dowager, is out of 1968 Hollywood Gold Cup winner Princessnesian (by Princequillo), a half sister to 1966 Santa Anita Derby winner and successful sire Boldnesian (by Bold Ruler), and is a half sister to Irish group II winner Lords.
A $97,000 purchase at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, Harlan's Holiday was campaigned by Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stable. He more than recouped his purchase price at 2, when his four stakes victories included the 2001 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III). At 3 he won the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), and at 4 he won the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and finished second in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Harlan's Holiday injured a tendon while running unplaced in the 2003 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) and retired to Airdrie Stud having won 9 of 21 starts for earnings of $2,432,664.
With a fine race record at 2 through 4, a solid if not particularly fashionable pedigree that included a reasonably close family link to a good sire, and good conformation, Harlan's Holiday proved popular at his initial fee of $17,500 and covered 138 mares in his first season. The result was five juvenile stakes winners as a freshman sire of 2007, including CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner Into Mischief (Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek). Runner-up in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) the following year, Into Mischief is now a stallion at Spendthrift Farm and was third on the first-crop sires list in 2012. Currently fourth on the second-crop list, Into Mischief has six 2013 stakes winners, including 2013 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) winner Goldencents .
Harlan's Holiday's first crop eventually yielded nine stakes winners (four graded) from 96 named foals. He was second to Posse on the 2007 freshman sires list, and he ranked third among second-crop sires of 2008 with $3,459,047 in progeny earnings. His four stakes winners that year were led by Southwest Stakes (gr. III) victor Denis of Cork (Unbridled Girl, by Unbridled), who also ran second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Denis of Cork stands at Taylor Mountain Farm in West Virginia and had his first winner on July 7 when his son Celtic Moon won a maiden special weight at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Majesticperfection (Act So Noble, by Wavering Monarch) did not contribute to his sire's total earnings in 2008, but he ended up becoming the star of Harlan's Holiday's second crop when he finally made it to the races in 2010. The colt won two stakes races, including the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I), and set a track record of 1:07.24 for six furlongs at Prairie Meadows. He now stands at Airdrie Stud and will be a freshman sire of 2014.
Harlan's Holiday continued to get good runners and was fifth on the third-crop sires list in 2009. His third crop was headed by Mendip, a multiple group stakes winner in the United Arab Emirates, while his fourth crop starred 2011 American Derby (gr. IIT) winner Willcox Inn . Harlan's Holiday's continued success led to his transfer to WinStar Farm in December 2010, where he stood for the remainder of his career. (Harlan's Holiday also shuttled to Argentina in 2010 and 2011).
Five stakes winners have emerged from Harlan's Holiday's 2009 crop, including multiple graded stakes winner Summer Soiree and Turkish champion Agresivo. But it was the 2010 crop that saw Harlan's Holiday emerge into the ranks of the elite Kentucky stallions. Not only did he lead the 2012 juvenile sires list, but he set a new single-season record for juvenile earnings with $2,954,556. His champion son Shanghai Bobby (Steelin', by Orientate) accounted for $1,687,000 of that with an undefeated campaign that culminated with a game victory in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Retired Sept. 29 following a 3-year-old campaign hampered by physical problems, Shanghai Bobby will stand his first season at Ashford Stud in 2014.
Harlan's Holiday has four juvenile stakes winners in 2013, including grade III winners Ami's Holiday (Victorious Ami, by Victory Gallop) and Poker Player (Revel in the Win, by Red Bullet), and is fourth on the current juvenile sire list. He is also seventh on the general sires list by progeny earnings and has 17 stakes winners this year.
His passing is a sad loss as the best is probably yet to come thanks to the improved books he attracted during the past few years and the good mares he received in Argentina, where his first foals are just beginning their racing careers. But the foals from those crops, as well as the progeny of Into Mischief and other sire sons, should ensure that Harlan's Holiday is not forgotten any time soon.