Holiday Star defends Sycamore title at Keeneland

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Jen Caldwell

October 15th, 2015

Holiday Star captured last year’s Sycamore S. (G3) at Keeneland by a half-length, and successfully defended his title in the 1 1/2-mile turf contest on Thursday when scoring by that same margin under Edgar Prado.

The duo settled into the perfect stalking spot outside and just behind the pacesetting Patrioticandproud through splits of :25.95, :51.86, 1:17.82 and 1:44.17. Market Outlook was tracking in second while running off the leader’s flank.

Entering the third and final turn, Holiday Star ranged up closer as Market Outlook drew even with Patrioticandproud. The rest of the field began catching up as well, including 2-1 favorite Charming Kitten, who had been biding his time in midpack both times around the backstretch.

Holiday Star would not be denied a second straight win in the Sycamore, though, digging deep to withstand Charming Kitten and stopping the clock in 2:33.06 over the firm sod. St. Albans Boy came running to snatch third away from Thatcher Street by a neck on the wire.

In addition to the two Sycamore editions, Holiday Star’s resume also boasts a win in the July 11 Cape Henlopen S. at Delaware Park. He’s placed four times, including a second straight runner-up effort in the John’s Call S. last out at Saratoga.

Trained by Graham Motion, Holiday Star is campaigned by breeder George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable. The Harlan’s Holiday five-year-old gelding is now 6-3-2 from 19 career starts.

Holiday Star photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography


Graham Motion (winning trainer of Holiday Star): “(Jockey) Edgar (Prado) called it right. He didn’t want to be too far off the pace. He wanted to be a little bit towards the outside. This horse is really consistent; he’s a remarkable horse. Edgar also said (that Holiday Star) handled this turf course a lot better than the Saratoga course, which is so firm. I think he likes this turf course a lot.”

Edgar Prado (winning rider of Holiday Star): “I had a beautiful trip. He came running out of the gate. There was not much pace in the race, and he was very comfortable just galloping along. When I asked him, he really kicked in.”

John Velazquez (rider of runner-up and beaten favorite Charming Kitten): “It was a good trip, I was right next to (Holiday Star), following him. I got to the outside and put a little pressure on him, got to the quarter pole and thought it was going to be him and me fighting down the lane. All of the sudden that horse took off and my horse started wandering a bit down the lane. Finally, the last sixteenth of a mile he started running again.”

Paco Lopez (rider of third-place finisher St. Albans Boy): “I had perfect position at the three-eighths pole. I waited. I took him outside, and I think it cost me the race. My horse tried really hard. He’s a nice horse. It was my first time riding this horse.”

Kelly Rubley (trainer of third-place finisher St. Albans Boy): “I thought he ran a great race. We’ll take a third in a Grade 3. Our jockey thought he might have lost a couple of seconds by going to the outside, but I thought he ran great. I was very pleased with the effort.”

Brian Hernandez Jr. (rider of fourth-place finisher Thatcher Street): “We had a great trip. We had the inside post, and the horse left there forwardly placed. He just got outrun by horses with a little more experience given the distance. But the horse ran great."