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Intense Holiday Stuck Outside in Holy Bull

Gulfstream Park 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Intense Holiday will have the rest of the field inside him when he breaks from post 11 in Saturday’s $400,000 Miller Lite Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park – the same scenario his sire, Harlan’s Holiday, faced 11 years ago in the Donn Handicap (G1).            

His connections are hoping for a similar result, as well. Hustled from the gate by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Harlan’s Holiday was able to secure good early position before drawing away in the stretch to win the 2003 Donn by 2 ½ lengths.            

“We were at the draw that year and everybody had a heart attack when he pulled the 11-hole,” said Jack Wolf, who owned Harlan’s Holiday and is co-founder and managing partner of Starlight Racing, which campaigns Intense Holiday. “Good horses can find a way to win from any post.”            

The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull will mark the 3-year-old debut for Intense Holiday, who had a maiden win from five starts at 2. Before leaving New York for South Florida, he was fifth in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park and fourth in both the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct.            

“We sort of took a stab in the Champagne because there sort of wasn’t any other place to go. I thought he ran a credible race there,” Wolf said. “Not using it as an excuse, he hasn’t had the best of trips. This race has got some pretty fancy horses in there. It’s one good horse after another.”            

This year’s Holy Bull field is the largest since Barbaro beat 11 challengers in 2006. There have been as many as 11 four times in its first 27 runnings, the best finish from post 11 being Choctaw Ridge’s fourth in 1992.            

“We’ve been pointing for this race ever since his last race in New York. He’s trained forwardly and seems to be maturing at the right time,” said Starlight co-founder and managing partner Don Lucarelli. “I just wish, naturally, that we had a better post but you have to play the hand you’re dealt. Hopefully this will make him get more involved early and see from that standpoint what he can do.”            

Despite his post, Intense Holiday is fourth in the program at odds of 6-1; Nashua winner and Remsen runner-up Cairo Prince is favored at 3-1. Other familiar horses Intense Holiday will face are Financial Mogul, second in the Nashua, and Wicked Strong, third in the Remsen.           

“We’re hopeful he can catch a trip and show us what he really is capable of,” Lucarelli said. “Whatever happens, happens, but I do think that he will be a good horse. He can handle the distance. It’s going to all be how much pace is in front of him and where he sits off the first turn; that’s what’s going to dictate everything. It’s all about the trip, but the horse is doing well.”      

 

 

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