A step up into graded-stakes company and a drop-back in distance
resulted in a gutsy triumph for R Holiday Mood in the $150,000 Hurricane
Bertie Stakes (G3) Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Returning to action off a dead-heat victory in the one-mile Ocala
Stakes for Florida-bred fillies, in which she fought back at the wire to
finish on even terms with Delightful Mary, R Holiday Mood once again
demonstrated the courage to retake the lead nearing the wire to narrowly
prevail in the 6 ½ -furlong sprint.
“She’s just a little battler,” winning rider John Velazquez said.
“She gives you everything she has every step of the way. I’m very proud
R Holiday Mood, the fourth betting choice at 5-1, broke alertly from
the starting gate to assume the early lead, pressed by Funny Sunny
along the backstretch and around the far turn. Her Smile, the 4-5
betting choice ridden by Javier Castellano, maintained a stalking
position on the far outside leaving the turn into the stretch but was no
match for the dueling pacesetters through the stretch run. Funny Sunny,
the 9-2 second choice, inched ahead inside the final sixteenth of a
mile under Kent Desormeaux but was unable to hold off the resurgent R
Holiday Mood nearing the finish line.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 4-year-old filly
ran the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.85 while prevailing by a neck. The Robsham
Stable is 11-for-18 at the meet.
“I really didn’t expect her to be on the lead today. 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,” said Pletcher, the defending eight-time Gulfstream training
titlist. “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.”
Funny Sunny held second, 2 ½ lengths clear of Her Smile, who was
making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly
& Mare Sprint (G1) on Nov. 5.
After notching her first graded-stakes victory, R Holiday Mood is
expected to return in the $150,000 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream
on March 17.
“I’d say if she comes out of this okay we’ll look at the next one,
the Inside Information,” Pletcher said. “The seven-eighths is just right