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Most Valuable Pony (May 4-10): Halladay

by Jeremy Plonk

May 11, 2020

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.

May 4-10, 2020

MVP: Halladay

Owner: Harrell Ventures LLC

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Luis Saez

Performance: Sent off the 6-5 favorite in the May 9 $75,000 Sunshine Forever Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Halladay was in complete command from start to finish. The 4-year-old War Front colt notched his second stakes win, adding to his Tropical Park Derby score in December, and won for the third time in his last 4 starts. Halladay set a controlled pace under Luis Saez, quickened to an impressive third quarter in 22.57, and was never threatened in the stretch by Aquaphobia and stablemate Social Paranoia.

On Tap: Now a 2-time listed stakes winner, Halladay likely will be tested for class as he finds his place among the middle-distance national turf scene. Turf miles in the East and Midwest likely are his seasonal targets. The June 20 Wise Dan at Churchill would be the first possibility to see Halladay reappear. With Belmont’s more immediate stakes schedule in flux, a forward look for goals could include something like the Fourstardave or Bernard Baruch during a potential Saratoga meeting. If Halladay is to ascend to a Breeders’ Cup Mile-type of contender by the fall, then races like the Woodbine Mile, typically in September, and the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in October, might be longer-range goals.

Honorable Mentions: Trainer Todd Pletcher had another strong performance last week when Hyperfocus debuted a winner at Gulfstream Park on May 9. The 2-year-old son of Constitution overcame a slow start to finish strong in a 4-1/2 furlong dash. Also on the May 9 Gulfstream card, the Mark Casse-trained Tap It To Win returned to action for his 3-year-old debut with a sharp allowance sprint victory over older horses. The impressive Saratoga maiden breaker has been inconsistent, but eye-catching at his best. And finally, we dip into the American Quarter Horse ranks for the first time in this space during a light week of national action. Ain’t She Tempting crushed the competition May 9 at Remington Park in her trial victory for the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity. The 4-1/4 length victory over 350 yards was a superb follow-up to the Monty Arrossa-trainee’s win in the Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity prior.