Harlan (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
GP- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
December 16, 2017
As the SRF prepares to head into the holiday break after this race weekend, I want to take this time to thank everyone out there for reading. I am very grateful for the feedback that I get from time to time from stables, and that is what keeps me going even when it seems like many of the races seem to be same. This preview is for the fifth running of the Harlan, a small graded stake that takes place down at GP. Despite just a $100.000 purse going for it, the race has attracted a pretty strong field. Ten are going to the gate, so let’s take a look!
#1- Gentile Il Buono (Sc Lanciano, ridden by J Lezcano)- A winner of five out of 22 career races, but is hoping remove the goose egg in the win column for 2017. His last victory game in September of last year in the Durham Cup Stakes, a Grade 3, and off of that he began to be placed in some of the biggest races out there, such as the CT Classic and Pacific Classic. At times, he has had some close in those races, but does show a bit of inconsistency in them as well. He’s capable, but one I can’t pick over several others here.
#2- Rajivs Roadblock (Night Rider Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- Participated in the BC Dirt Mile last month, but ran into a roadblock and did not finish ahead of anyone. His last three, and maybe last four, races are showing a disturbing trend that he might be losing some form. The trainer will be hoping to give his accomplished gelding a career reboot in this one, and you have the feeling that this is a very pivotal race for the trainer’s decision in what to do with him next year.
#3- Starlight King (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Purchased back in September in the auction for $65.000, Starlight King has made one start for Nakamura since then, running third in an allowance. Off of that race, and a rest of about six weeks, the trainer is confident in this one to make his graded debut here. It’s also going to be the first time he’s run more then seven furlongs, and a recent mile work does not really wow me. There could be reasons for that, but there are too many question marks on him for me to pick him.
#4- Sporty Greyjoy (Saratoga Stud, ridden by E J Zayas)- This gelding has had a good second half of the year, but has been particularly impressive when going exactly 8.5 furlongs. He’s won two of his last three races, which includes the $175.000 OK Classics Classic in late October. Then, just three weeks later, he made his graded debut at the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at WO and came from well off the pace to get up for second late. That closing kick will have everyone looking for him in the stretch, making him one of the top options in this field.
#5- Grounded In Reality (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- The gelding by Commanding will be looking to pick up his first graded win in this race. This is a step down from a pair of Grade 1’s that he most recently contested, running in the Woodward and then the Awesome Again. After a couple months since his last start, he should have no excuses here. There’s a bit of a disparity in the speed figures in those two grade 1’s (using HRP standards), but if he runs like he did in the Woodward, he can threaten here.
#6- Level Charge (Wolfs Den, ridden by M G Pino)- The best news for this one is the 0% chance of rain for Saturday, meaning we can completely throw out the Pattison performance. Beyond that, though Level Charge has been inconsistent ever since he won the Grade 3 Peter Pan in May. Thing is, before that he had seemed very consistent. His best runs, recently, have been when running under a mile, though it looks like he should be racing a distance like this. Hard one to figure out.
#7- First Rebellion (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by T Gaffalione)- Might not be the most well known name in this field, but he does have the most career earnings here out of anyone. A big reason for that was an astounding level of success running in NY-bred races and stakes for his prior trainer. After building on that an winning the Grade 2 SD Handicap, Hambletonian acquired him in the September auction for $100.02, and stuck to what worked, and won the Empire Classic in their first race together. Now back in graded company, First Rebellion seems poised to big up another big win for his career, one that has seen 11 victories in 17 starts.
#8- Grayteful Jack (Gdp Inc, ridden by G Boulanger)- Comes out of the same Grade 2 Autumn Stakes that a few of the rivals here also come out of, but it might be best to compare him to fellow grey, Sporty Greyjoy. In that race, the two of them looked to come from well off the pace and both narrowly missed. In that race, Sporty Greyjoy was a bit behind Grayteful Jack, and was able to finish just ahead of him. The two of them are pretty much even and will need to monitor where the other one is closely if the same tactics are to be used again.
#9- Lucky Sexxyflex (Estero Farms, ridden by N Juarez)- In sixteen starts, Lucky Sexxyflex has been successful, winning four, and being in the money in ten of them. Despite that, he has not been able to avoid being sold several times and not really being able to stick with a regular owner. His career highlight was winning the $100.000 State Dinner at BEL in July, but would be sold later that month. Estero Farms has yet to pick up a win with him, and this will be his toughest assignment so far in his career.
#10- Turn Ninnie (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by L Saez)- Ever since he acquired this horse back in February, TwinTowers has been determined to pick up a win for him in a stake, most of which it seems like I have ended up writing previews about. It just did not work out for him on the grass, so the trainer tried to send him to the main track, drop him into an optional claimer, and hope for the best. He would run fifth and three lengths out in that race, so it’s a surprise to see him placed here. One of these days, I’ll see him get a win in a stake. Maybe, but not here.