Harlan’s Holiday (G3), Fort Lauderdale (G2) Draws Interest from Pegasus World Cup Hopefuls
Endorsed Returns to Winner’s Circle, Expressman in Friday Feature
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Pegasus World Cup (G1) hopefuls Simplification, O’Connor, Skippylongstocking and Super Corinto are four of the 17 horses nominated for the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), to be run Dec. 31, while Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) two-time defending champion Colonel Liam is one of 29 nominations for the Fort Lauderdale (G2), also contested on New Year’s Eve.
Simplification, winner of the Fountain of Youth (G2) and fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), would be racing for the first time since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. nominated Skippylongstocking, third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), and O’Connor, an impressive winner of his only U.S. start Oct. 16. Super Corinto, like O’Connor, a South American import, is expected to train up to the Pegasus.
Colonel Liam will be trying to win the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) for the third consecutive year. He scratched from a race Dec. 15 that came off the turf, so the Fort Lauderdale would be his first start since a ninth-place finish March 26 in the Dubai Turf (G1). City Man, winner of the Forbidden Apple (G3), has four works at Payson Park since winning the Mohawk Stakes at Aqueduct Oct. 30.
Trainer Mike Maker, who saddled Zulu Alpha to victory in the Pegasus World Cup Turf in 2020, has nine horses nominated for the Fort Lauderdale including Knickerbocker (G3) winner King Cause, Mac Diarmida (G2) winner Temple, and 2021 Seabiscuit (G2) winner Field Pass.
Gulfstream’s Dec. 31 program also includes the $125,000 Mr. Prospector (G3), $125,000 Sugar Swirl (G3), $125,000 Suwannee River (G3), and $125,000 Rampart.
Meanwhile, Mark Breen’s Endorsed, fourth in last year’s Pegasus World Cup behind Life Is Good, Knicks Go and Stilleto Boy, drove past Legends Can’t Die and Paco’s Pico to win Thursday’s seventh race, an allowance optional claimer. The 6-year-old, trained by Mike Maker, covered seven furlongs in 1:22.44 while winning for the first time since May 2020. Multiple Grade 1 stakes placed Dr Post, making his first start this year, was no factor finishing eighth as the beaten favorite.
Expressman Returns Friday
Friday’s seventh race is a $71,000 allowance optional claimer and the field of 12 drew the 3-year-old colt Expressman. Purchased as a 2-year-old for $325,000, Expressman was an impressive debut winner at Saratoga in August before finishing second last time out at Aqueduct to Peter Brant’s Nabokov. Todd Pletcher trains Expressman and Luis Saez rides. Black Belt won consecutive races at Gulfstream in the fall for trainer Peter Walder. This will be his first start since Oct. 16. Irad Ortiz Jr. is named to ride.
Earlier in the day Race 3 will feature a $53,000 maiden special weight event for state breds 2-year-olds. The field of 11 includes first-time starters Gambling Holiday for Pletcher, Erskine for Mark Casse, and First Place G for David Fawkes.
NOTE: Friday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 carryover will be $37,600.60. The Rainbow 6 will begin with the fourth race, a five-furlong event on the Tapeta for fillies and mares. There’s a tepid 3-1 morning line favorite in Nikee Kan.