Kentucky Derby

Harvey Wallbanger Plasters Tote in G2 Holy Bull

Coglianese Photos / Kenny Martin

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After running second in his first three career starts, trainer Kenny McPeek’s Harvey Wallbanger followed up his maiden-breaking effort with a tremendous late rally on Saturday to plaster the tote and win the Grade 2, $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

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Breaking from post 5 at 25/1 odds under Brian Hernandez, Jr., Harvey Wallbanger took back and settled along the inside heading into the first turn while spotting the early leader Epic Dreamer 10 lengths. Following the field through opening fractions of :23.18, :46.76, and 1:10.89, Harvey Wallbanger remained comfortably ridden in the rear, waiting until the top of the far turn before beginning to advance. Finding an opening along the rail, Harvey Wallbanger rode it all the way through the turn, hitting the top of the stretch in third under a full head of steam. Gaining on Epic Dreamer and the 4/5 favorite Maximus Mischief with every step, Harvey Wallbanger took command in the shadow of the wire before clearing away late to win by 1 length in a final time of 1:43.69 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.

“It was great,” said Hernandez, Jr. “We had a horse that likes to come from behind and we thought they’d go quick in front. I was able to just kind of sit there. I knew to trust in my horse because he was second in a couple of good maiden races and he always runs to his competition, so I thought he’d give a good showing today. We’d have been happy if he’d have been second or third, but for him to jump up and win showed that he’s a good horse and he’s turned into a good 3-year-old. When we turned for home and I got within range of them, I thought I had enough horse to where I’d get past them. I  mean, he spurted through there quickly and he did it like a good horse.”

Perhaps almost as shocking was the late run down the middle of the track from Everfast, who was ignored by the betting public and sent off at odds of 128/1 before catching Maximus Mischief by a neck at the wire. Epic Dreamer faded to finish 1 length further behind in fourth, while Mihos flattened out in the turn and settled for fifth. Garter and TieFederal CaseCome On Gerry, and Gladiator King completed the order of finish. Going for Gold was scratched.

The Holy Bull is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Harvey Wallbanger earned 10 points for the win, with Everfast receiving 4 for second, Maximus Mischief 2 for third, and Epic Dreamer 1 for fourth.

Harvey Wallbanger’s win was his second straight and improved his overall record to 5-2-3-0. The 3-year-old son of Congrats, purchased for $50,000 as a yearling, increased his lifetime bankroll to $299,520 for owners Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott Akman, and Paul Braverman.

“He had four races and we trailed a few back-to-back, and his last race was actually an audible,” McPeek said. “I entered him off an extra, without even working him, and he won anyway. Then it was just a matter of getting down here and backing off him a little bit and giving him a little time to recover from a few races in the fall. He’s a good, solid horse. We tried to teach him how to run, certainly finish, come up the inside or outside or whatever it takes, and he’s learned his lessons, and Brian did a wonderful job getting him there.”

Harvey Wallbanger returned $61.20 to win, $20 to place, and $7 to show. Everfast brought back $81.40 to place and $26 to show, while Maximus Mischief paid $2.60 to show.

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