December 12, 2020
$3 million Pegasus World Cup Likely Next for Gargan Trainee
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Hugh Lynch’s Tax returned to winning form in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3), scoring a dominating 4 ½ -length victory while stamping himself as a prime candidate for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23.
The Harlan’s Holiday, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up, was one of five stakes on Saturday’s program, which was headlined by the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), a key prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
Tax, a prominent player on the 2019 Road to the Triple Crown, had been winless since capturing the 2019 Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga until he broke through with a dazzling front-running score Saturday that threatened the track record for 1 1/16 miles.
“We have really, really been high on him. We really thought he’d run big at Keeneland but he got sick on us and caused him to miss the race. I got really depressed about it because I was waiting to run him. Today, he showed up,” Gargan said. “I think this will be his best year. He’s grown, developed. He’s sound. He’s bigger, stronger than he’s ever been. I couldn’t be happier with him today.”
Unraced since finishing fifth in the May 2 Oaklawn Handicap – his only start since finishing off-the-board in last year’s Pegasus World Cup – Tax went right to the front under jockey Luis Saez after breaking from the No. 1 post position and was never threatened thereafter. The 4-year-old gelded son of Arch completed 1 1/16-miles in 1:41.15 while being under wraps for the final sixteenth of a mile, missing Social Inclusion’s 2014 track record of 1:40.96 by less than a fifth of a second.
“I could feel that he was doing great. He was ready. He was pretty focused in the gate and he broke so sharp. He took the lead and controlled the pace and at the five-eighths, I felt like I had a lot of horse,” Saez said. “When we came to the stretch and he changed leads, he took off. He was very comfortable the whole way. I knew I had a lot of horse. We were just saving him for the next time. I could feel that we were going fast, but he was so comfortable. He loves to run, and we let him run.”
Next time could quite likely come in the Pegasus World Cup, in which he stumbled at the start and wasn’t able to recover last year.
“I’ll have to talk to Dean [Reeves] and Randy [Hill] and Hugh Lynch,” Gargan said. “I’m blessed that they’re been so patient. He’s only run two times this year. We turned him out and had a couple of misfortunes that we didn’t get to run. Having great owners like those guys really helps you develop a horse into a good horse.”
Eye of a Jedi closed from far back to finish second under Marcos Meneses, a half-length ahead of 2-1 favorite Phat Man, who stalked the early pace under Irad Ortiz Jr. but was unable to mount a serious challenge.