A trio of Todd Pletcher-trained runners, headed by 9-5 morning-line favorite and last year's GI Travers S. hero Keen Ice (Curlin), figure to share the spotlight in Saturday's GIII Harlan's Holiday S. at Gulfstream Park.
Keen Ice, the only horse to defeat American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) during his historic 2015 Horse of the Year campaign, is using the Harlan's Holiday as a prep for the $12-million GI Pegasus World Cup. He was last seen finishing a well-beaten third in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5.
“He seems to be in sharp form,” Pletcher said. “The mile and a sixteenth doesn't seem like his ideal distance, but we want to get him something between now and the Pegasus. We feel sharpening him up is better than waiting to run him Jan. 28.”
Keen Ice fired a five-furlong bullet in 1:01 3/5 (1/8) at Palm Beach Downs Dec. 10.
Stanford (Malibu Moon), a close second in the GII Gulfstream Park H. in March, makes his first start since finishing a well-beaten eighth in the GI Met Mile at Belmont Park June 11. He previously captured the GII Charles Town Classic in front-running fashion Apr. 23.
“He's doing well,” Pletcher said of Stanford. “We gave him some time off after the Met Mile. He seemed to kind of tail off a little bit. We gave him a little bit of a break. He's come back and is training very well and he ran well over this track last year.”
Madefromlucky (Lookin At Lucky), unraced since finishing second in the GIII Excelsior S. at Aqueduct Apr. 9, rounds out the Pletcher trio. The 2015 GII Peter Pan S. and GII West Virginia Derby hero finished a close second in this race last year.
Awesome Slew (Awesome Again), a runaway winner of the GIII Smarty Jones S. at Parx Sept. 5, takes on his elders following a fifth-place finish in the GII Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 24.