'Holiday Mood' Brightens Gulfstream Park Winner's Circle
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A step up into graded-stakes company and a drop-back in distance resulted in a gutsy triumph for R Holiday Mood in the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Returning to action off a dead-heat victory in the one-mile Ocala Stakes for Florida-bred fillies, in which she fought back at the wire to finish on even terms with Delightful Mary, R Holiday Mood once again demonstrated the courage to retake the lead nearing the wire to narrowly prevail in the 6 ½ -furlong sprint.
“She’s just a little battler,” winning rider John Velazquez said. “She gives you everything she has every step of the way. I’m very proud of her.”
R Holiday Mood, the fourth betting choice at 5-1, broke alertly from the starting gate to assume the early lead, pressed by Funny Sunny along the backstretch and around the far turn. Her Smile, the 4-5 betting choice ridden by Javier Castellano, maintained a stalking position on the far outside leaving the turn into the stretch but was no match for the dueling pacesetters through the stretch run. Funny Sunny, the 9-2 second choice, inched ahead inside the final sixteenth of a mile under Kent Desormeaux but was unable to hold off the resurgent R Holiday Mood nearing the finish line.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 4-year-old filly ran the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.85 while prevailing by a neck. The Robsham Stable is 11-for-18 at the meet.
“I really didn’t expect her to be on the lead today. I thought the one (Pica Slew) would go to the front and we’d follow her. I felt reasonably confident that she would run well today coming off the mile race,” said Pletcher, the defending eight-time Gulfstream training titlist. “That was a demanding race and the mile is about her limit, but she’s a big strong filly and came out of it well.”
Funny Sunny held second, 2 ½ lengths clear of Her Smile, who was making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) on Nov. 5.
After notching her first graded-stakes victory, R Holiday Mood is expected to return in the $150,000 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream on March 17.
“I’d say if she comes out of this okay we’ll look at the next one, the Inside Information,” Pletcher said. “The seven-eighths is just right for her.”