Howe Great wins the Palm Beach Stakes.

Howe Great wins the Palm Beach Stakes.

Coglianese Photos

Howe Great Shows He'll Rate in Palm Beach Win

Motion leaning toward Toyota Blue Grass after Team Valor colt takes fourth straight.

Howe Great, a turf horse for now, held off Dullahan by one length to win the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) as the 3-5 favorite on the Gulfstream Park lawn March 11.

It was the fourth consecutive victory for Howe Great, the past three coming on Gulfstream's turf. It remains to be seen if Howe Great, who broke his maiden on dirt at Philadelphia's Parx Racing last fall, will remain on grass for his next start, however.

The victorious 3-year-old son of Hat Trick is trained by Graham Motion for Team Valor International. The connections are the same, of course, that won last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Animal Kingdom , another colt that was considered better on turf early in his career. Motion said he is considering the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 14 over Keeneland's Polytrack for Howe Great, where he could face Dullahan again.

"We talked about it before the race and decided the logical spot for him if he did well today would be to go to the Blue Grass and see where we go from there,” Motion said after the Palm Beach victory.

Barry Irwin bred Howe Great in Kentucky. The dark bay/brown colt is out of the South African mare Ginger Sea, by Western Winter.

With John Velazquez aboard, Howe Great had a great stalking trip just off a sensible pace set by 37-1 shot Scorcher and took over leaving the turn for home. Howe Great opened a two-length lead in the stretch and held on well as Dullahan, a horse with Kentucky Derby aspirations for trainer Dale Romans, made his bid from fifth and closed ground in the final furlong.

“He hasn’t done too much wrong in his life," Motion said of the winner. "He’s a very classy, straightforward horse. The more he races, the more relaxed he has become. He’s been in front in some of his races, but as you saw today he’s very tractable and relaxed, and doesn’t need the lead."

This was the first start for Donegal Racing's Dullahan since he finished fourth in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Dullahan won the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland a month before the Breeders' Cup.

Dullahan, ridden by Kent Desormeaux finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Csaba  and Paco Lopez.

“I’m very pleased," Romans said of Dullahan's effort. "I thought that was a perfect race for him in his comeback. He finished good; we just wanted to see him finish good at the end. (Howe Great) is a quality race horse. This sets us up good, so we’ll go from here to the Blue Grass.”

The winning time was 1:46.56 for the nine-furlong test of 3-year-olds on firm turf. The quarter-mile fractions set by Scorcher were :23.87, :47.52, and 1:11.53.

Howe Great won Gulfstream's 1 1/16-mile Kitten's Joy in his stakes debut Jan. 21, finishing 2 1/2 lengths in front of stablemate Lucky Chappy. He won a turf allowance, also at 1 1/16 miles, five weeks prior to that. Both of those wins were accomplished in front-running fashion. His fourth lifetime win following a debut second-place finish at Parx last September was worth $90,000 in graded earnings and pushed his overall total to $211,500.

"I knew if another horse went (to the lead), (Howe Great) would be able to settle," Velazquez said. "He was on the inside but didn’t seem to mind. Around the half mile pole I squeezed him just a little and he popped right back onto the bridle and from there I made sure to save something for the stretch. When I asked him in the stretch he responded right away."

Carrying 120 pounds, Howe Great paid $3.40, $2.40, $2.10. Dullahan returned $2.80 and $2.20. Casaba was $3.80 to show. The exacta was worth $8.80 and the trifecta $42.60.

Argentine Tango finished fourth, followed by Coalport and Scorcher.