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Valid Makes Successful Return to South Florida in Harlan’s Holiday

Dec 12, 2015
Holds Off Fellow Graded Stakes Winner Madefromlucky to Win $100,000 Stakes 

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A return to South Florida and the addition of Championship Meet-leading rider Javier Castellano proved to be a winning combination for Crossed Sabres Farm’s Valid, turning back a late bid from fellow multiple graded stakes winner Madefromlucky in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park.

The fifth running of the 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday for 3-year-olds and up was the one of four $100,000 stakes on Gulfstream’s 11-race program, joining the Rampart (G3) as well as South Beach and El Prado on turf. The Harlan’s Holiday will be run as a Grade 3 race in 2016.

It was the third win in the last four starts for Valid, a gelded 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro who exited a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Oct. 30 at Keeneland. 

“He was doing really good, and the Breeders’ Cup I don’t think took a lot out of him,” trainer Marcus Vitali said. “He’s a good horse. He’s back at home. He likes it here. We knew there was some speed in there. I told Javier to just be light in the mouth and keep him close. Javier decided to let two or three horses go and when it was time, he asked and as usual Valid responded.”

The four-time defending Championship Meet-leading rider, Castellano was a late replacement for jockey Matt Rispoli, who had guided Valid to victory in the Groomstick Stakes Sept. 26 at Gulfstream. 

“I just had some thoughts as a trainer. I was mulling some things around in my head,” Vitali said. “I had talked to Matt yesterday or the day before. Nothing personal, it was a business decision. He’s a great kid and he still rides for me, and we move forward.”

Breaking from post 2, Castellano was content to sit behind Mr. Jordan as the Grade 3 winner, fresh in his first start since Aug. 2, took the field through a quarter-mile in 23.78 seconds, a half in 46.70 and six furlongs in 1:10.82.

Favored at 9-5 in the field of 10, Valid ($5.80) quickly assumed the lead after moving up to challenge on the turn for home, and had plenty left to dismiss a late bid from Madefromlucky in deep stretch and hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front. The winning time was 1:42.27.

“One thing I want to say. It’s a business. I feel bad for the other rider, but I was open in the race. They were looking to make a change and I was lucky to be able to ride the horse,” Castellano said. “It was a good setup. A lot of horses went to the lead. My horse wanted to go to the lead, too. I had to take him back a little bit and the race set up perfect. I waited for my time behind horses and got the jump on Madefromlucky. That was the horse we had to beat. It worked out great.”

Valid has now won six of 12 lifetime starts at Gulfstream Park and is 11-for-33 in his career. He has run 12 times this year, including victories in the Fred Hooper (G3) at Gulfstream and Iselin (G3) at Monmouth Park.

“He likes to be a racehorse. He loves his job,” Vitali said. “You see him out there in the post parade, he was happy. He loves to train. He’s got his quirks but when you put him in the gate he knows what time it is. He knows what he wants to do.”

Mr. Jordan finished third, three lengths behind Madefromlucky, followed by Just Call Kenny, Mexikoma, Ami’s Holiday, Encryption, Sr. Quisqueyano, Lynx and Juan and Bina.

“Perfect trip,” Madefromlucky’s jockey, John Velazquez said. “The other horse (Valid) got the better trip inside. I had to go around.”

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