Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Audible, off as a 1-9 favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, was upset by the rail-riding Sir Anthony in what was planned as a final — and easy — prep toward for the Jan. 26 Pegasus World Cup.
Given Audible had a larger target at which to aim, Sir Anthony was in to win and did just that under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who guided the 25-1 shot to an upset victory over a wet track in South Florida.
“He never really seemed like he fired,” said Audible’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. “You hate to use the track as an excuse, but obviously it rained quite a bit and they sealed the track. Javier (Castellano) said up the backside it was pretty uneven; there were dry spots and wet spots. It seemed like he was just never really taking him there handing the track the way we would have hoped.
“I think the track has changed since the previous meet. They made some adjustments to it and I think it’s still settling in a little bit. I don’t think he really handled it. We didn’t know what everyone else was going to do. We just let Javier ride his race, but he was never really taking him. He had to kind of ask him to get into every position he tried to.”
Audible surrendered his unbeaten Gulfstream Park record, which included scores in the Holy Bull (G2) and Florida Derby (G1). The 3-year-old returned following his third in the Kentucky Derby looking in fine form on Breeders’ Cup Saturday when he took the Cherokee Run Stakes going seven furlongs.
This time, Castellano urged Audible, who ran fifth and well off the lead early, through the far turn to almost no avail. Audible ranged up with a four wide move but was already all out at that point while Sir Anthony, a son of Mineshaft, took a shorter route to a half-length win on the rail.
The final time was 1:45.14 after Audible had to rally off dawdling opening fractions of 25.19 and 49.80.
“He always breaks like that,” Castellano said. “He’s not a sprinter horse. He’s more of a two-turn, come-from-behind horse. He broke with the field and that was the good thing about the post. You’re able to save all the ground on the first turn and see how it develops. They went pretty quick and he was right there, not too far back. Unfortunately, it was hard to gain ground on this track.”
Campaigned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm, Audible suffered just his second defeat of the season. Now, we’ll see if he’s still on to the Pegasus, a $9 million race that’s the richest in North America.
Meanwhile, Sir Anthony, a 3-year-old Illinois-bred who’s trained by Anthony Mitchell for Richard Otto Stables, notched a win in his graded stakes debut and 14th start overall. The ridgling entered with three straight wins, all in his home state, but had before Saturday not run against this class of horse.
“I said to Brian going out, ‘Brian, believe in this horse,” Mitchell said. “This horse has got two gears. One will take you there and one will put you in front if we’re good enough.’
“…Audible was on the outside, but we’re either going to get it or we’re not. But he committed, the horse put his head in front and he didn’t give up.”
Apostle ran third with Village King, another trained by Pletcher, fourth in the field of six.