Harlan's Looking Good Post-Holiday

Late December brought the news that WinStar Farm had acquired a significant interest in Harlan's Holiday (TrueNicks,SRO) and would now be standing the son of Harlan. Previously, Harlan’s Holiday had held court at Airdrie Stud, the Midway nursery having done an excellent job of guiding the early stages of his career.

Irrespective of where he would be covering, we’d already earmarked Harlan’s Holiday (whose fee was announced at $25,000 live foal when slated to stand at Airdrie, and remains the same at his new home) as one of the best value proven horses around for the coming year. He’s certainly not disappointing us this year, as in the post holiday season, he’s already been represented by Mendip, who captured round one of the Al Maktoum Challenge (gr. III) in Dubai; the Tropical Oaks victress Dynamic Holiday; Spectacular Bid Stakes runner-up Leave of Absence; and Pasco Stakes second, Bert B Don.

Although he showed plenty of talent, Harlan’s Holiday lacked just a touch of glamor when he retired. He’d been a fast and precocious two-year-old, winning four of six starts, adding the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) and Cradle Stakes to two early sprint stakes wins. The following year, he ran off the board as tepid favorite for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), after capturing the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). A four, he became the first horse to complete the Florida Derby/Donn Handicap (both gr. I) double, and also took second in the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). All in all, this was the record of a very good racehorse, but one who just missed the highest class.

At the time, the same might have been said of his pedigree. A Storm Cat line horse, Harlan’s Holiday is not by Storm Cat himself, nor one of his higher profile sons. Instead, he is by the short-lived Harlan, who scored his sole stakes victory when taking the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) as a five-year-old. It’s possible that Harlan may have turned out to be a very good sire, but we’ll never know as he died after siring just 99 foals. Of these, six were stakes winners, with Harlan’s Holiday and Menifee being multiple grade I scorers, and Owsley and Wandering winning grade II events. Harlan’s Holiday is the only stakes winner produced by his first two dams, but his third dam is the excellent racemare Princessnesian, a half sister to Boldnesian, the grandsire of Seattle Slew.

Harlan’s Holiday demonstrated his potential as a sire straight out of the gate. He was represented by nine first crop stakes winners, four graded, including grade I-winning two-year-old Into Mischief (TrueNicks,SRO), and twice classic-placed Denis of Cork (TrueNicks). In his second crop came four stakes winners, headed by the shatteringly fast grade I winner Majesticperfection (TrueNicks,SRO), and graded winner Saratoga Sinner. Graded winners Necessary Evil (a filly who defeated colts in the Hollywood Juvenile Championships (gr. II)) and Mendip head the trio of stakes winners in his third crop, and the fourth crop, which have just turned three, has already produced stakes winners Dynamic Holiday and Grant Jack, and the grade I-placed Willcox Inn. The third and fourth crops were sired at $17,500, but his next two crops were conceived at $25,000 and $30,000, which bearing in mind the general drop in stud fees, means that these two crops are almost certainly the best bred that he will have.

Value apart, one of the reasons that Harlan’s Holiday keeps popping up on the matings radar is that he has some clearly defined affinities with some popular strains. The most frequently met of course is that Mr. Prospector, and six of Harlan’s Holiday’s stakes winners are out of mares from that line. This includes Denis of Cork and Necessary Evil (out of mares by Unbridled and Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO) respectively); Mendip (out of a mare by Coronado’s Quest, a son of Forty Niner); and J. Z. Warrior (dam by Carson City).

From another branch of Raise a Native, that of Majestic Prince, Harlan’s Holiday is sire of Majesticperfection (dam by Wavering Monarch), Bear Holiday (dam by Maria’s Mon) and Harlan’s Song (dam by Eternal Prince), while Choragus is out of a mare by Bet Big (dam by Majestic Prince). The brothers His Majesty and Graustark have a similar background to Majestic Light (sire of Wavering Monarch and grandsire of Maria’s Mon), and Harlan’s Holiday has Grant Jack, upset winner of the $250,000 Springboard Stakes at two last year, out of a mare by St. Jovite (by His Majesty’s son, Pleasant Colony).

We mentioned that Harlan’s Holiday is from the family of Boldnesian (in fact his granddam is from the same male and female line as that horse). He has sired graded winning and grade one placed sprinter Riley Tucker out of a mare by Bold Ruckus (a reverse Bold Ruler/Raise a Native cross to the dam of Harlan’s Holiday). The graded-winning Saratoga Sinner is his only stakes winner to date out of 14 starters from mares descending in male line from Boldnesian through Seattle Slew.

Harlan’s Holiday is yet to be represented by a stakes winner from his own line, that of Northern Dancer, but from the Icecapade branch of Nearctic he is sire of Into Mischief (dam by Tricky Creek, by Clever Trick) and stakes winner Three Day Rush (dam by Vicar, a son of Wild Again). Incidentally, while the cross with Northern Dancer has not been a fruitful one, breeding Harlan’s Holiday to mares carrying Northern Dancer through Storm Bird’s genetic relative, Nijinsky II, has proved been much more effective, appearing in at least five of his stakes winners, three graded.

The cross with Roberto line mares has yielded stakes winner Dynamic Holiday (dam by Dynaformer (TrueNicks,SRO)) and Silver Reunion (dam by Silver Hawk). Out of a mare by frequently successful Storm Cat line foil, Relaunch, comes multiple graded winner Tasha’s Miracle, and stakes winner Beautiful Holiday is from a mare by Rahy.

With his best crops to come, and a demonstrable affinity for some of the most frequently available strains, there must be a good chance that the next few years will see Harlan's Holiday make the leap to the next level.

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