Audible, undefeated in two starts last winter at Gulfstream Park, returns to South Florida for the next step in his comeback on Dec. 15 in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes for owners China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners.
Audible opened his 3-year-old season with victories in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes and 1 1/8-mile Xpressbet Florida Derby to establish himself as one of the top contenders heading into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, in which he ran third behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify.
The bay son of Into Mischief was ultimately given a freshening at WinStar Farm and rejoined trainer Todd Pletcher’s New York string in September to prepare for his return, which came Nov. 3 in the seven-furlong Cherokee Run Stakes at Churchill Downs, where he came from off the pace to win by two lengths.
“We were looking for the correct spot to bring him back and in the fall of the year. There’s limited opportunities against straight 3-year-olds, so we felt like maybe giving up a little bit in terms of the distance was the right way to go,” Pletcher said. “I was proud of him for being able to show enough tactical speed to win impressively at a distance that is probably a little bit shorter than is his ideal distance. I thought he did quite well, and it seemed to serve its purpose as far as moving us forward toward the Harlan’s Holiday.”
Audible has had three workouts at Pletcher’s winter base of Palm Beach Downs for the Harlan’s Holiday, which serves as both the colt’s return to graded stakes competition and a prep for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream.
“He’s been excellent since he shipped down to Florida. Everything has gone according to plan so far, and we’re looking forward to the next step toward the Pegasus,” Pletcher said. “We’re pleased with the way he’s training, the way he looks, and we hope that he likes what I would consider to be a little bit of a different Gulfstream surface maybe than what he ran on earlier this year, but it seems like he relished it.
“Of course, you’d always like to win. It’s hopefully a springboard toward the Pegasus, and the mile and a sixteenth, I think, will suit him fine,” he added. “The main thing we’re looking for is a good effort and for him to show us that he’s progressing, moving forward. Hopefully, he performs well and, most importantly, comes out of it in good shape to move forward toward the Pegasus.”