R Holiday Mood hooked up with Funny Sunny at the start and those two fought all the way to the wire before R Holiday Mood prevailed by a neck in the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 19 (VIDEO).
E. Paul Robsham's homebred 4-year-old filly R Holiday Mood picked up her first graded stakes victory while winning for the second time at the current Gulfstream meet for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Florida-bred daughter of Trippi won the restricted one-mile Ocala Stakes Jan. 8 in a dead-heat with Delightful Mary. R Holiday Mood earned her fourth stakes triumph during an eight-race career.
With John Velazquez aboard, 5-1 shot R Holiday Mood completed the 6 1/2-furlong event for older fillies and mares in a quick 1:55.85. She grabbed the lead out of the gate with Funny Sunny and Kent Desormeaux camped on her outside and maintained a half-length advantage while clipping off an opening quarter-mile in :22.67 and a half in :45.14.
Still leading by a head while reaching the sixteenth pole in 1:09.29, R Holiday Mood dug in for a 6.56-second closing half-furlong to inch away before the finish.
“I really didn’t expect her to be on the lead today," Pletcher said. "I thought the one (Pica Slew) would go to the front and we’d follow her. I felt reasonably confident that she would run well today coming off the mile race (won Ocala Stakes). That was a demanding race and the mile is about her limit, but she’s a big strong filly and came out of it well."
Pletcher said he would look to Gulfstream's $150,000 Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs March 17 for R Holiday Mood's next start.
"She’s just a little battler," Velazquez said. "She gives you everything she has every step of the way. I’m very proud of her.”
Funny Sunny finished 2 1/2 lengths clear of 9-10 favorite Her Smile, who was in position on the outside for Javier Castellano in the stretch but came up short as the 123-pound high weight. It was the first race for Her Smile, the 2011 Prioress Stakes (gr. I) winner, since she finished third with a wide trip in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 4.
R Holiday Mood's fifth lifetime win was worth $90,000, pushing her career bankroll to $217,800. The bay filly is out of Polish Holiday, by Danzig.
She carried 117 pounds and paid $12.40, $6.20, and $3.40 as the fourth choice in the field of seven. Whisper Hill Farm's Funny Sunny, a three-length winner at the distance over optional claimers Jan. 8, returned $5.80 and $3.60 and completed a $67.80 exacta. Her Smile, formerly trained by Pletcher, paid $2.40 in her first start for new owner Stronach Stables and conditioner Chad Brown.
Frank Stronach paid $1 million for the 4-year-old daughter of Include after the Breeders’ Cup at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall 2011 mixed sale.
Belle of the Hall finished fourth, followed by Pica Slew, Strike the Moon, and Ms Vanenzza.