2021 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. MIGHTY HEART (9-5) – Dual Canadian classic winner in 2020 has proven more than just a hero north of the border this season with several strong efforts at or around this level. The issue he faces here is early company from the less-classy Blue Steel, who could potentially make him expend energy he’ll need for later. Alternatively, Velazquez could choose instead to sit right behind and take first crack, which this colt has been able to do effectively in the past. Logical threat.

2. BLUE STEEL (10-1) – Victory in the Claiming Crown Iron Horse would have capped a fine season, but connections willing to take a shot at this much tougher level. In essence, though, this nickel starter type appears in over his head. However, it appears he’ll play some role as one of the more obvious pace players, either by setting it up for others and/or softening up Mighty Heart.

3. TWENTY TWICE (10-1) – His quest to get past his second allowance condition this fall gained little traction, and thus the class hike to a G3 seems ambitious. However, keep in mind he started this form cycle coming back from a very long layoff. Effort two back wasn’t bad behind a next-out winner in a fast race for the level, and probably undone last time by the slow pace. Should get stronger fractions here, though class concerns remain.

4. EYE OF A JEDI (8-1) – Enjoyed a fine Gulfstream meet last winter, finishing second in this race and the Fred W. Hooper (G3) before capping it off with an emphatic victory in the Ghostzapper (G3) around two turns. However, after a get-fit run in the slop on Sept. 17, his last two runs have been well below par. Time perhaps catching up to him as he’ll be seven soon, and so far has been no match for Fearless. Peak runs last winter were Lasix-free, so we’ll see if that has any effect here, but in general enters with form that doesn’t inspire confidence.

5. SOUTH BEND (4-1) – It’s been feast or famine for the colt this year. Stakes tries on the dirt weren’t bad, though, the grass attempts can be forgiven, and he did score a win over Mighty Heart in their mutual season debut at Keeneland. However, worth noting his two wins this year have come when he’s been allowed to run with Lasix, which isn’t allowed for this race. Inconsistency the obvious drawback.

6. FEARLESS (8-5) –Perhaps in need of that tightener last month in the one-mile overnight handicap, which he lost by a length to a rival he was conceding five pounds to. However, worth noting a prep wasn’t necessary at all when taking the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) in February after a much longer break. Half-length loss to eventual Met Mile (G1) winner Silver State in the Oaklawn H. (G2) easily the best performance turned in by any of these this season, and anything approximating that form will make him difficult to beat here.