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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Imaginary Stables and Glenn Ellis’ War Story, a multiple graded stakes winner with $2.9 million in earnings, turned in yet another game effort Saturday at Gulfstream Park to win the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3).
“This horse fires almost every time out. He’s named correctly. He’s a warrior,” said Imaginary Stables’ John Guarnere.
The Harlan’s Holiday, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up, was one of five stakes on Saturday’s 11-race card that also featured the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2), $100,000 Rampart (G3), $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3), and $100,000 My Charmer. The Harlan’s Holiday and Ft. Lauderdale are preps for the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series at Gulfstream Park on January 25.
“We may get an invite for the Pegasus,” Guarnere said. “He doesn’t traditionally run well at this track, but after that… If we get an invite, we’ll go.”
War Story, who finished off-the-board in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup, lagged off a heated early pace between Bodexpress, the even-money favorite, and Prince Lucky, the 6/5 second betting choice. Bodexpress ran the first 1/4 in 22.82 seconds before Prince Lucky to his inside took a misstep and was pulled up by jockey John Velazquez. The favorite continued to show the way past a 1/2-mile in 46.14 before being challenged by Red Crescent on the turn into the homestretch. Under an aggressive ride by Luis Saez, War Story mounted a wide rally through the stretch to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:42.45.
“He’s a horse you have to keep busy all the way. At the 1/2-mile pole, he responded to me. In the stretch, he switched leads and took off,” Saez said.
Phat Man, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., rallied to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of a tiring Bodexpress.
War Story was making his first start for trainer Elizabeth Dobles, providing the up-and-coming South Florida-based trainer with her first graded stakes success.
“It’s exciting. Like every other race I win, it’s a pleasure,” Dobles said. “He’s a hard-knocking horse.”
War Story returned $27.20 to win, $10.40 to place, and $5.40 to show. Phat Man brought back $17.80 to place and $8.40 to show, while Bodexpress paid $2.60 to show.
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