Sugar Swirl Stakes, Harlan’s Holiday & Mr Prospector Odds

2022 is drawing to a close, but Gulfstream Park is ensuring that the year ends on a high with three top-quality Grade 3 contests – the Sugar Swirl Stakes, Harlan’s Holiday Stakes and Mr Prospector Stakes. In an effort to find you a nice winner or two before the year finishes, here is everything you need to know. 

Sugar Swirl Stakes

Grade 3, six furlongs, dirt, open to fillies and mares aged three and over. Total prize pool $125,000

The first graded action from a bumper New Year’s Eve card comes in the form of the Sugar Swirl Stakes. A six-furlong contest for fillies and mares aged three and above, six are due to head down to post for this year’s renewal with Frank’s Rockette the clear favourite for the contest. 

Trained out of the Bill Mott yard and with the exceptional Luis Saez on board, Frank’s Rockette is looking to bounce back from a disappointing effort at this year’s Breeders’ Cup where she could only finish 11th in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint

Before her poor run at Keeneland, she had continued to show real glimpses of potential with placed efforts in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Stakes and Grade 2 Honorable Miss Stakes

A five-year-old, Franks’s Rockette has placed in seven graded contests including a narrow second in this race last year. She is fully expected to go one better this time around.

Set to give chase to the favourite is Coppelia, who heads into the contest following a victory in Dream Supreme Stakes.

Likely to be up with the pace throughout this race, Coppelia showed a fantastic blend of speed and stamina to pull away from the field in the Dream Supreme and if left out in front she could require some pegging back. 

Rounding out the top three in the betting is Joyful Cadence. Representing the John Ortiz yard, Tyler Gafflione will be taking the ride and will be hopeful of turning the tables on Coppelia following her second-place finish in the Dream Supreme Stakes last time out. 

Irad Ortiz Jr will take the ride for the first time on the Michelle Hemingway-trained Edie Meeney Miny Mo and will start at a fairly attractive price. 

A flexible horse when it comes to distance, six furlongs is her preferred length as four of her nine career victories have come over this trip. A listed winner, she has never tasted success at this level and needs to bounce back from a poor run last time out in allowance company. Her second-place finish in the Seeking the Pearl was put down to a lack of fitness, and her connections will be hoping she strips much fitter here. 

Sugar Swirl Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

With so much experience at this level, including multiple graded wins from earlier in her career, it’s hard to look past Frank’s Rockette for the win. She arrives with form to prove but Bill Mott’s charge should have far too much class and experience for this field.

Joyful CadenceTyler Gaffalione+500
My DestinyEdwin Gonzalez+800
RestofthestoryEdgard J. Zayas+1200
Frank’s RocketteLuis Saez-125
Edie Meeny Miny MoIrad Ortiz, Jr.+600
CoppeliaMartin Garcia+450

Harlan’s Holiday

Grade 3, dirt, 1 mile and a sixteenth, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $150,000

Arguably the race of the day comes in the shape of this year’s Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. Raced just beyond the mile, the race is seen as an important prep race for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes that will be held at Gulfstream later in January. 

Eight are due to head down to post for this year’s renewal with the betting being led by the Saffie Joseph-trained O’Connor. 

There is a buzz around O’Connor who is making just his second US start following his move up from Chile earlier on in the year. A winner twice this year back in his homeland, he wasted no time on his American debut, impressively winning by six lengths in optional claiming company. 

The nature of his win last time out would suggest that he can handle the rise in class and he has been given the dream starting stall having been drawn in gate 1. There are slight concerns that this trip might be too short, but if he can back up his last start he is sure to be a likely contender. 

Joseph heads into this year’s renewal of the Harlan’s Holiday with a strong chance as he also trains the returning Skippylongstocking.

A regular runner in higher-graded contests than this, Skippylongstocking returns to the track after a three-month layoff. 

A Grade 3 winner earlier in the season in the West Virginia Derby, he has shown real promise finishing 3rd in the Belmont and 5th in the Preakness. That represents some top-quality form and having been fully rested ahead of what is sure to be a busy season next year, he arrives fresh and looks to be the value play of the contest.

Looking to round out the top 3 in the betting is the Florida-bred Simplification who is trained out of the Antonio Sano barn and will be ridden by Junior Alvarado. 

He has form that ties in nicely with Skippylongstocking having placed fourth in this year’s Kentucky Derby, and sixth in the Preakness before finishing third in the Florida Derby. Unlike Skippylongstocking he arrives for this contest with no questions to answer regarding his fitness as he raced in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile just over a month ago.

One of the most interesting runners in the field is the Todd Pletcher-trained Pioneer of Medina who will be ridden by Luis Saez.

Pioneer of Medina is a horse trending in the right direction and appears to be getting better with every run. Like others in the field, he has also been highly tried but could only finish 19th in this season’s Kentucky Derby. However, that performance provided a springboard to some better performances with Pioneer of Medina able to finish third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes

He warmed up for this race with a win last time out in an allowance optional claimer and is sure to be one of the more intriguing runners in the field. 

The one runner with experience in this particular race is South Bend who represents the Bill Mott stable. 

A second-place finisher in this contest last year, his esteemed connections will be hoping he can go one better this year. 

Rounding out the field are Cooke Creek, Strike Hard and Clapton with all needing to run career-best races to come out on top. 

Harlan’s Holiday Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

Saffie Joseph has to fancy his chances of success with two of the leading fancies for the contest. Despite O’Connor’s convincing win last time out, it came in much calmer waters and the value play might lie with Skippylongstocking, who despite having had three months of the track arrives with solid form and experience in the book. 

O’Connor (CHI)Edgard J. Zayas+160
Pioneer of MedinaLuis Saez+600
Cooke CreekJorge Ruiz+2000
SimplificationJunior Alvarado+500
South BendJoel Rosario+600
Strike HardLeonel Reyes+2000
SkippylongstockingIrad Ortiz, Jr.+400
ClaptonTyler Gaffalione+800


Grade 3, dirt, seven furlongs, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $125,000

Twelve horses will head down to post for this year’s Mr Prospector Stakes with the betting for the contest likely to be led by the Jeremiah O’Dwyer-trained Sibelius and Mark Casse-trained Pappacap.

It’s easy to see why Sibelius is near the top of the market following a string of recent positive performances, which includes a victory in the Lite the Fuse stakes, a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Ogden Phoenix Stakes and a runner-up effort in the Bet on Sunshine Stakes. Clearly thriving, he looks to be a sure-fire contender. 

Pappacap is by far the field’s most interesting runner. Having been off the track for almost six months it’s hard to know how fit he will be for his reappearance, but he is certainly a horse loaded with potential. 

An impressivet-year-old, Pappacap headed into the season following a victory in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes and a pair of runner up efforts at the very highest level in the American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

However things haven’t quite gone to plan this season with Pappacap going winless in six starts. Heading into the race, Casse has no concerns with Pappacaps fitness and thinks he should be bang in contention here. 

Looking to round out the top 3 in the betting is the Brendan Walsh trained Prevalence. 

Prevalence is another who arrives at the track lightly raced and will be making just his second start since May. His early 2022 form certainly gives him a chance following a victory in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes. Fitness could be a concern but he looks to be one to back at a decent price. 

Uncle Ernie who is trained out of the John C Servis yard is sure to have his followers and is looking for a third straight victory. Whilst both of his previous wins have come at lower levels, he is clearly a horse in great form and with the services of Irad Ortiz to call upon he is one to definitely keep an eye on. 

Saffie Joseph Jr has chances up and down the card and that is certainly the case in this race. Joseph runs two in the contest in the shape of Wind of Change and County Final. Both could start as double figure prices but are more than capable of winning a race at this level. 

Winds of Change is a former Grade 3 winner back in his native Brazil and has finished fourth and fifth in this contest in the last two years. 

County Final has placed in four graded stakes races throughout the course of his career and his connections will be hopeful of another big run here.

Mr.Prospector Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

Despite Pappacap’s impressive results and form, his near six month absence has to be a major concern heading into a race of this nature. Sibelius is bang in form and is capable of winning yet another race. In a race this deep, luck will need to play a part but we think he can get the job done. 

Surly FuriousMartin Garcia+1500
SpeakingEmisael Jaramillo+2000
SibeliusJunior Alvarado+300
PappacapJoel Rosario+400
Steal SunshineLeonel Reyes+1500
Wind of Change (BRZ)Edgard J. Zayas+2000
PrevalenceTyler Gaffalione+450
Uncle ErnieIrad Ortiz, Jr.+600
Dean DeliversMiguel Angel Vasquez+1500
No Que NoJose E. Morelos+2000
County FinalJose L. Ortiz+1200
Seal BeachLuis Saez+800

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