Last spring Bodexpress was the country’s most notable maiden and a media darling after he ran much of the way in the Preakness (G1) despite having reared and unseated jockey John Velazquez at the start.
Now in the waning days of the year and with his maiden status an increasingly distant memory, the son of Bodemeister can earn his first graded stakes win in Saturday’s $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday appears a good fit for Bodexpress. A strong second to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby (G1) last March as a 71-1 outsider, he was subsequently elevated to 13th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) prior to the Preakness debacle.
Bodemeister enters Saturday’s race off back-to-back wins in a maiden and a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park West, both achieved in wire-to-wire fashion as an odds-on favorite.
“If he finishes first or second, he’ll go to the Pegasus (World Cup [G1]) – that is my plan,” said trainer Gustavo Delgado.
A one-turn mile has typically been the sweet spot for Prince Lucky, who captured the Hal’s Hope (G3) and Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) last winter, but the gelding stretches out here following a fourth to Maximum Security in the 7-furlong Bold Ruler H. (G3).
“Seven furlongs is a bit short for him. I think he’s probably at his very best at a one-turn mile, but we were sort of in a spot where we didn’t have too many options,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who also has aspirations for the Pegasus World Cup.
Also in the field is multiple graded stakes winner War Story, who’ll have to lug top weight of 125 pounds and has yet to place in three prior runs over the Gulfstream main track. Red Crescent, meanwhile, enters off a victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream West.
Two-time Princess Rooney (G2) heroine Stormy Embrace and Vagrancy H. (G3) winner Heavenhasmynikki are the top draws in the $100,000 Sugar Swirl, a 6-furlong test for fillies and mares. However, the hot horses in the field are ex-claimer Lady’s Island, who’s won seven of eight this season, and A Bit of Both, who’s won seven of nine lifetime for the Jason Servis barn that had an incredibly successful last weekend both at Gulfstream and Aqueduct.
There are no standouts in the $100,000 Rampart (G3), a one-turn mile for fillies and mares, with the multiple graded-placed Cairenn and Cookie Dough drawing the two outside posts.