HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, and Hugh Lynch’s Tax punched his ticket to the Pegasus World Cup (G1) with an easy score in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Tax broke alertly from the rail under Luis Saez as the 2/1 co-favorite and held his inside position while Royal Urn and Tatweej challenged him through the clubhouse turn.
Straightening on the backstretch with a narrow advantage, Tax posted opening fractions of :23.87, :46.96, and 1:10.22 before beginning to pull away in the far turn.
Rounding for home still on top, the Danny Gargan trainee was confidently handled while never asked for his best, ultimately completing the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:41.15, just shy of Social Inclusion’s track record of 1:40.97 set in 2014.
“I could feel that he was doing great,” Saez said. “He was ready. He was pretty focused in the gate and he broke so sharp. He took the lead and controlled the pace, and at the 5/8 (pole), I felt like I had a lot of horse. When we came to the stretch and he changed leads, he took off. He was very comfortable the whole way. I knew I had a lot of horse. We were just saving him for the next time. I could feel that we were going fast, but he was so comfortable. He loves to run and we let him run.”
It was 4 1/2 lengths back to Eye of a Jedi, who rallied inside late to take second over Phat Man (the other 2/1 co-favorite) and Math Wizard by a 1/2-length and a length, respectively.
Identifier, Tatweej, and Royal Urn completed the order of finish.
Tax’s win was his first since the 2019 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and improved his overall record to 13-4-3-1. The 4-year-old Arch gelding, claimed for $50,000 out of his maiden-breaking effort in October 2018, has now earned $957,060 and will point next to the Pegasus World Cup, where he finished ninth last year.
“I’m blessed that (the owners are) so patient,” Gargan said. “He’s only run 2 times this year. We turned him out and had a couple of misfortunes that we didn’t get to run. Having great owners like those guys really helps you develop a horse into a good horse.”
Tax returned $6.60 to win, $4.20 to place, and $2.80 to show. Eye of a Jedi brought back $9.80 to place and $4 to show, while Phat Man paid $2.20 to show.