Harry’s Holiday’s Spiral Effort Drives Late Triple Crown Nomination
FLORENCE, Ky. (March 26, 2014) – Impressed by the game effort Harry’s Holiday laid down in the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday, owners Skychai Racing LLC, Terry Raymond, and Jana Wagner elected to pay the $6,000 late fee to nominate their colt to the Triple Crown.
Early nominations to the Triple Crown closed Jan. 25. The deadline for late nominations was 11:59 p.m. ET on Spiral Stakes day, March 22. The nomination is valid not only for the Kentucky Derby but also for the other two jewels in Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes on May 17 and the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
The late nomination allowed Harry’s Holiday to claim the 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points he earned in his all-heart, runner-up Spiral Stakes finish behind We Miss Artie, who came from well off the pace to get his nose in front in the very last stride. We Miss Artie earned 50 qualifying points. Ten points went to third-place Coastline, and fourth-place Asserting Bear earned five points. The points system to determine the Kentucky Derby’s 20 starters began with the 2013 renewal.
Harry’s Holiday contested the lead throughout the Spiral and led from the top of the stretch to that mere inch or two before the wire. He galloped out first after the wire, indicating he still had juice in the tank after the 1 1/8-mile Spiral.
“I don’t think he saw We Miss Artie coming up on the outside,” said Harvey Diamond of Skychai Racing. “We were disappointed that he lost but excited to see him still there at the wire. We thought about (the nomination) for about three seconds. We saw the gallop out and knew we would nominate.”
Asked why they hadn’t nominated the Harlan’s Holiday colt to the Triple Crown trail by the early deadline, Diamond said, “We knew he was good but we didn’t think he had that quality. But we had hope, and he just kept living up to it. He’s still learning, but everything we throw at him he seems to absorb, learn from it, and get better.”
In 2013, the horse with the fewest points in the original draw qualified with just 10, so there’s a chance Harry’s Holiday would get in with 20. With eight qualifying races to go, all but one worth 100 points to the winner, he currently stands 15th on the list. When asked if the colt would get another start between now and the Derby, Diamond said, “He’ll let us know if he needs another race. We won’t push him to make the Derby unless he shows us he wants to go. If you listen to the horse, he’ll tell you if he’s ready.”
Trained by Mike Maker, Harry’s Holiday has been based at Turfway most of the winter. He won the 96ROCK Stakes at Turfway by eight lengths Feb. 1 and followed with a third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia Memorial exactly a month later.
“We figured he could get the Spiral distance,” said Diamond. “He was so wide in the Battaglia that he went about that far.”
Of the other three runners to add points from the Spiral, We Miss Artie currently tops the Derby hopefuls list with 60 points, Coastline stands 21st with 13 points, and Asserting Bear is 39th with five points. Among Spiral also-rans who have points from previous races, Tamarando has 12 and is 22nd on the list; well down the list with four points each are Big Bazinga and Smart Cover, respectively fifth and last in the Spiral, and Arctic Slope, seventh in the Spiral, with two.
Mike Maker has been Turfway’s leading trainer 13 times, and with three days of racing left in the winter/spring meet he appears poised to add a 14th title. The late nomination gives the trainer three Derby hopefuls, with Harry’s Holiday joining General a Rod for J. Armando Rodriguez and Vicar’s in Trouble for Ken and Sarah Ramsey. All three currently have 20 points.