"Harlan's Holiday is still in New York at this time," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who spent a couple days at Gulfstream this week overseeing his local operation before flying back to Aqueduct. "If everything goes right, I'm planning on running him in the Cigar Mile (gr. I at Aqueduct on Nov. 30). After that, I'll bring him south and his main objective this winter will be the Donn Handicap."
One of the highlights of the 2002 meeting at Gulfstream was the rivalry that developed between Harlan's Holiday, who is owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf of Atlanta, and John C. Oxley's Booklet. The latter beat Harlan's Holiday in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) and the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) but, Harlan's Holiday got his revenge by romping to a 3 ½ length victory in the Florida Derby.
Harlan's Holiday would later win the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) by 4 ½ lengths at Keeneland before finishing seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. The bay colt then was fourth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico. It was after the Preakness that Pletcher took over training Harlan's Holiday from trainer Ken McPeek.
Harlan's Holiday won at first asking under Pletcher's tutelage, taking the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) at Philadelphia Park by 4 ½ lengths on Sept. 2. He was third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Sept. 28. Pletcher then shipped him to Arlington Park where he finished ninth in the Breeder's Cup Classic (gr. I) on Oct. 26.
"He didn't like the track at Arlington," Pletcher said. "And, he didn't run any step of the way. That's the good thing about Gulfstream. I know he likes this track. He ran well here last year and I don't know why it should be any different this year."
Pletcher also has a couple of 2-year-olds that he has high hopes for and who could have designs on the 2003 Florida Derby. They are Dogwood Stable's Boston Bull, winner of the Cowdin Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park and third place finisher in the recent Nashua Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, and Bham, winner of an allowance race at Aqueduct in his last start. Bham is campaigned by Harlan's Holiday owners,the Wolf's Starlight Stable.
"Boston Bull is the more accomplished of the two horses at this time," Pletcher said. "He won a sprint stakes and was third in a stakes at a mile in New York. I'm going to run him in the Remsen (gr. II at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 30) at Aqueduct then bring him down here. Bham won a nine-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct in his last start and it looks like the farther he goes the better he likes it. They're both nice colts and I think both have excellent futures in front of them."