HALLANDALE BEACH, FL–Double B Racing Stables’ Lure Him In, a winner first off the claim in his return to dirt last month, takes a jump up in class when the 6-year-old gelding faces 10 rivals in the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (Grade 3) at Gulfstream Park.

The mile-and-one-sixteenth Harlan’s Holiday for 3-year-olds and up, the local prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) Jan. 27, is one of four stakes, three graded, worth $600,000 in purses on the final Saturday program of the 2023 calendar year.

Lure Him In became a stakes winner in the 2022 Sunshine Turf at Gulfstream, rained off the grass and contested at a mile-and-an-eighth on the all-weather course . Overall, he has made 32 of his 39 career starts on turf or synthetic surfaces.

Trainer Herman Wilensky claimed Lure Him In for $40,000 Sept. 9 at Del Mar and brought him back to Florida, where he raced eight times for breeder Stonehedge with three wins on the dirt and a win and a second on the turf.

“He’s a Florida-bred, and he belongs here,” Wilensky said of the decision to claim him. “I thought he was a better dirt horse than he was a turf or Tapeta horse. He will run on anything because he’s just such a class horse, but I feel like he’s better on the dirt. Obviously, he showed that last time. Coming back to Florida, we can get some Florida-bred stakes in him, and he should be pretty salty there.”

Before that, Wilensky is giving Lure Him In a shot in the Harlan’s Holiday off a two-length optional claiming allowance triumph Nov. 25 at Gulfstream, his first race in two-and-a-half months and first on dirt since finishing third in the mile-and-a-half Tokyo City (G3) in April 2021 at Santa Anita.

“He ran huge last time,” Wilensky said. “It took us a little while to get him right, and he wasn’t even 100 percent at that time. He did perform well, and we weren’t surprised at all. It just took us a little time and he did what he had to do.”

Among the competition in the Harlan’s Holiday is Dubyuhnell, winner of the 2022 Remsen (G2); stakes winner Ny Traffic, placed in five graded-stakes including second by a nose to subsequent Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic in the 2020 Haskell (G1); Grade 2-placed Blue Devil; O’Connor, a five-time group-stakes winner in Chile that took the Fayette (G2) Oct. 28 at Keeneland in his latest start; Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winners Octane and Steal Sunshine; and Grade 3 placed stakes winner Miles D.

Lure Him In will break from outermost rost 11 under jockey Edwin Gonzalez, who was up for his most recent victory.

“It’s a really tough, tough race. The post position I’m not happy with, but he’s going to go out there and try and he’s doing really, really well. He’s training great and doing everything just perfect. I can’t be happier with him.”

As for a possible Pegasus start, Wilensky said, “We’re just kind of going race by race. I wish we had an inside post, and it came up really salty. I mean, this race is tough. That’s part of the game. It’s going to be all about the trip. He’s going to go out there and perform.”

Return to the Dec. 29 issue of Wire to Wire