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2006 Gulfstream Park Handicap

John Velazquez and Harlington in the Gulfstream Park winner's circle.

Fountain of Youth
Swale Stakes
Richter Scale, Honey Fox,
and The Very One

Bonnie Miss and
Forward Gall Stakes

Date: 03/04/2006

The older horses did battle in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. A field of eight went to post in this 1 3/16 mile, Grade 2 event, with Suave sent off as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite over 3-1 shot Harlington and 4-1 third choice Sun King.

Harlington winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
7-1 shot Its No Joke made all the early running, through fractions of 23.21, 46.43, and 1:10.72 as the favored Suave pressed the pace just to the outside. Harlington rated off the pace in fifth down the backstretch. Turning for home, Suave tired from the quick pace and faded from contention, while John Velazquez was just getting Harlington into his best stride. Harlington rallied along the rail on the turn, then through the stretch, was fully extended to hold off the late charge of 25-1 shot Contante. Harlington prevailed by a neck in 1:55.18 over Contante, who was just 3/4 lengths ahead of pacesetter It's No Joke in third. Sun King was wide throughout, faded late and was last. This race was the third win of the day for Pletcher and Velazquez. Results Chart from DRF.

Harlington returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "Down the backside the leaders were all outside of us, and I had the rail, and I thought to myself that I couldn't ask for a better trip. Then he moved for me, but when we got to the lead, he kind of started playing around, so I had to take a hold of him a little bit and shake him up. Then he was able to hold on."

Singer David Cassidy presents the trophy to jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher said, "Johnny said he locked onto him and he (Harlington) drug him up to the lead. With four horses across the track, you've got to take that chance when it comes (go inside), but I don't think he's ever been to the lead that soon, and he didn't know what to do when he got there. It's just a sign of how enormously talented he is that he's able to race like this without totally focusing. He's come a long way, but he's still not battle tested. That was my concern going against horses had been in the Triple Crown, but a race like this should help."

Second place finisher Contante in the post parade.

Third place finisher and pacesetter It's No Joke leading first time by the stands.

Beaten favorite Suave returns after the race. His trainer Paul McGee said, "It looks like he just ran flat. Rene said he was a little flat. He pinned his ears turning for home and just didnīt have it today."

Funny Cide was popular with the fans, but unfortunately stopped badly after a mile and finished second last. His trainer Barclay Tagg of 7th place finisher Funny Cide said, "You have to keep him on the outside, but then when you do that, that left a hole on the inside, and all those horse came up in there. It was probably too much pressure on him. I wish I had a more definitive answer. Maybe he's just not as good as he was."

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