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Harvey Wallbanger continues resurgence in Gulfstream’s Hal’s Hope

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.

He 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 Grade 3, $100,000 Hal’s
Hope (G3) at 1 1/8 miles 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 Stakes (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,” said 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) on 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.

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