Saturday’s Harlan’s Holiday ‘Coming Out Party’ for Tatweej

December 9, 2020

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL –   Alshareef Hazzaa Shaker Alabdali’s Tatweej is scheduled to make his stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park, where the 4-year-old son of Tapit will put a streak of three commanding victories on the line.

The Harlan’s Holiday, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up, is one of four graded stakes on Saturday’s card, headlined by the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), a key prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Jan. 23.

The late-developing Tatweej, who was purchased for $2.5 million at the 2017 Keeneland September sale, has run four times, all at Gulfstream Park, where he finished third in his June 21 debut. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt, who obviously benefited from the experience, went on to win his next three starts at Gulfstream, all going away at the one-turn mile distance under Edgard Zayas.

“He’s a very well-bred horse and always showed some talent. It took a little while to kind of get to the races, but he’s been ultra-consistent since he has,” Pletcher said. “This is kind of his coming out party, so to speak, if he’s able to handle this step up.”

Tatweej broke his maiden by 3 ¾ lengths on a fast track before winning a first-level optional claiming allowance by 2 ½ lengths over a good track and capturing a second-level optional claiming allowance by 2 ¾ lengths over a sloppy surface.

“He seems to like Gulfstream,” Pletcher said. “It will be an opportunity to get him stretched out around two turns and see how he can handle that and the step up in the class.”

Zayas has the return call aboard Tatweej, who will be taking on six rivals with vastly more stakes experience.

Phat Man, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Marianne Stribling, Force Five Racing LLC and Two Rivers Racing Stable LLC, will seek to improve on a second-place finish in last year’s Harlan’s Holiday, in which he finished between victorious war horse, War Story, and bad-boy-turned-Grade-1-winner Bodexpress.

The son of Munnings went on to capture the Fred Hooper (G3) to give trainer Kent Sweezey his first graded-stakes success and finish second in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).

“A couple of guys who know the sheets always said he was running really good numbers at a one-turn mile,” Sweezey said. “But I thought he ran a great race going two turns in this same race last year.”

Phat Man didn’t see action again until returning from an eight-month layoff in the Nov. 7 Lafayette at Keeneland, where he raced extremely wide from his far-outside post position before finishing sixth, four lengths behind victorious Sleepy Eyes Todd.

“He was hung out wide.” Sweezey said. “He’s huge. He’s the biggest horse I’ve been around. He’s massive. I thought he got a little tired which goes to show you he needed one under his belt.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard in last year’s Harlan’s Holiday and Hooper, returns to the saddle Saturday.

John Fanelli and partners’ Math Wizard will seek to win his first race in six starts since capturing the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 4-year-old colt’s best performance this year was a second-place finish behind Global Campaign in the Monmouth Cup (G3) in July.

Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride the son of Algorithms for the first time.

Tax, a multiple graded-stakes winner for R. A Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, is scheduled to return from a seven-month layoff Saturday. The 4-year-old gelding has raced only once since finishing a troubled ninth in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream last January, finishing fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) May 2.

Tax won the Withers (G3) and finished second in the Wood Memorial (G2) last year before finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The son of Arch went on to win the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga a few months later.

Luis Saez, who rode six winners on last Saturday’s Claiming Crown program, has the call aboard Tax.

Roseland Farm Stable’s Royal Urn will seek his first stakes victory in open company for trainer Kelly Breen. The 4-year-old son of Kantharos, though, is in career form, having captured three stakes for New Jersey-bred horses at Monmouth Park this year.

Joe Bravo, who was aboard for one of those stakes triumphs, has the call Saturday.

Trainer Steve Budhoo’s Eye of a Jedi, who finished off the board in last year’s Harlan’s Holiday, enters this year’s race off back-to-back victories. The son of Eye of the Leopard closed strongly to defeated multiple grades-stakes winner Diamond Oops in the mile Coaltown Handicap June 13 before stretching-out to 1 1/16 miles to win the Sea of Tranquility Stakes a month later.

Marcos Meneses, who was aboard for the Coaltown Handicap score, has the call aboard the Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding.

Gelfenstein Farm Inc.’s Identifier, who registered a 60-1 upset victory in last season’s Hal’s Hope (G3), is coming off a distant second-place finish behind next-out Grade 1 stakes winner Bodexpress in a Gulfstream Park West optional claiming allowance.

Jose Ortiz is scheduled to ride the 4-year-old son of Creative Cause for the first time Saturday.