SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Owner/trainer David Jacobson’s Harlan Punch took command in the far turn and blew away down the stretch with ease to easily take Saturday’s $150,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct.
Breaking from post 2 under Dylan Davis, Harlan Punch sat wide to the outside of early pace-setter Hit It Once More through splits of :23.79 and :47.52. Moving inward slightly through the far turn, Harlan Punch advanced without any encouragement and easily grabbed the lead, and it was all over from there. Harlan Punch hit the wire with a 7-length advantage in a final time of 1:38.03 for the mile-long main track event.
“I just played off the break,” said Davis. “I saw (the jockey) was very aggressive with Hit It Once More, so I just let him do his own thing. Once I come to the outside, he just got into his own stride and he took it all for himself.”
Backsideofthemoon stalked in mid-pack for much of the race before offering up a mild kick to take second by 3 lengths over a fading Hit It Once More. Watershed, Fellowship, the favored Vulcan’s Forge, and Securitiz completed the order of finish.
Harlan Punch’s win was his third straight at Aqueduct, following a pair of allowance races, including one just six days prior. The 5-year-old gelded son of Harlan’s Holiday improved his record to 27-7-8-4 with earnings of $571,993.
“I didn’t discuss (the race) with Dylan,” said Jacobson. “I left him no instructions, I told him to use your gut, and figure it out, and the way he’s riding right now, who’s going to tell him what to do? Definitely not me.”
Harlan Punch returned $5.90 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.20 to show. Backsideofthemoon brought back $7.90 to place and $4.90 to show, while Hit It Once More paid $7.60 to show.