OCEANPORT, NJ – Owner/trainer David Jacobson’s Harlan Punch didn’t have to do much to finally earn his first graded stakes victory on Saturday, cruising wire to wire over just three other foes to take the Grade 3, $100,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park.
Breaking sharply from the outside post as the even-money favorite under “Jersey” Joe Bravo, Harlan Punch posted uncontested opening fractions of :24.93, :48.82, and 1:12.53 while Page McKenney and Backsideofthemoon tracked 1-2 lengths behind. Responding well when Bravo asked him at the top of the stretch, Harlan Punch drew off with ease to win by 5 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:44.53 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
Page McKenney outlasted Backsideofthemoon by 1 1/2 lengths after the latter tried playing bumper cars briefly in the stretch. Imperative stumbled out of the gate and never fired better than fourth. Enough Is Enough, Hit It Once More, and Red Rifle were all scratched.
Harlan Punch’s win was his first since a strong performance in the $150,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct in March. The 5-year-old gelded son of Harlan’s Holiday now carries a record of 31-8-8-5 with earnings of $653,993.
Harlan Punch returned $4.40 to win and $2.60 to place, while Page McKenney paid $2.20 to place. There was no show betting.