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Harvey Wallbanger Headlines G3 Hal's Hope Field

by Gulfstream Park Press Release

March 25, 2020

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Consider Harvey Wallbanger, the cocktail.

It experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, fell out of favor, and has now made a popular comeback.

Consider Harvey Wallbanger, the horse.

It experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, fell out of favor, and has now made a popular comeback.

One of 11 older horses entered in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Hal’s Hope (G3) at Gulfstream Park, Harvey Wallbanger burst onto the radar of racing fans in February of 2019 when he won the Holy Bull (G2) by a length at odds of 29-1. Suddenly, Harvey Wallbanger was considered a classic contender.

But Harvey fell out of favor when he finished eighth in the Florida Derby (G1), seventh in the Lexington (G3), and went the remainder of the year without a victory.

Now Harvey Wallbanger is back; signaling his return a month ago at Gulfstream with an impressive 5 ¼ length victory in which he burst through the rail around the turn before finishing going away.

A winner of two of three starts at Gulfstream, Harvey Wallbanger’s competition will include Challenger (G3) winner Trophy Chaser, last year’s Florida Derby runner-up Bodexpress, and two from the barn of leading trainer Todd Pletcher – American Tattoo and You’re to Blame.

Harvey Wallbanger, a 4-year-old son of Congrats, has been a “tricky horse,” according to Belmont (G1), Travers (G1), Alabama (G1), Ashland (G1) and two-time Florida Derby-winning trainer Ken McPeek.

“He’s the kind of horse who needs a pace,” McPeek added. “If the pace sets up right, if it unfolds the right way, he will run huge. But if there’s no pace he has a harder time. But he’s doing good and he likes Gulfstream.”

Pletcher, who has saddled the winner of the Hal’s Hope three of the past four years, will send out American Tattoo and You’re To Blame.

American Tattoo, winner of the Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream in December and third in the Marathon (G2) at Santa Anita in November, enters the Hal’s Hope off a 11th-place finish in the 1 ½-mile McKnight  (G3) Jan. 25 at Gulfstream. It was American Tattoo’s first race on the turf after drawing the tough No. 11 post.

“Last time he drew a bad post in there and it’s so difficult in those three-turn races to get hung out three or four wide on two or three turns,” Pletcher said. “It was just too much to overcome. I actually do think the horse handles the turf OK, but we just figured with this opportunity we’d go ahead and get back on the dirt and see if he can regain his best form. He’s proven that he can handle it.”

You’re to Blame will be making his first start since October. The 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor, who finished second in last year’s Pimlico Special (G3) and was beaten only a length in the Brooklyn (G2), “needed a comeback spot,” Pletcher said.

“I think he really found his specialty in a mile and a quarter-plus dirt races so we’re hoping he can run well here,” he added. “Who knows what the future brings, but it could set him up for something like the Pimlico Special, where he ran very well last year. He was right there.”

The field also includes graded-stakes winner Sir Anthony, graded-stakes placed Just Whistle and Prompt, and stakes winners Realm and Eye of a Jedi.