HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – O’Connor (Chi) slipped through a tight opening along the rail and launched a determined stretch bid in the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (Grade 3) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, virtually clinching an invitation to the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 27.

The Harlan’s Holiday, a mile-and-a-sixteenth prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream, co-headlined Saturday’s program with the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), a mile-and-an-eighth turf stakes that served as a prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), also on Jan. 27 at Gulfstream.

Owned by Michael and Julia Iavarone and Fernando Vine Ode, O’Connor earned his second consecutive graded-stakes victory in the Harlan’s Holiday after winning the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette at Keeneland on Oct. 28.

O’Connor won by a length over Grand Aspen in second with Ny Traffic third. Steal Sunshine was fourth followed by Florida-bred Octane, Dubyuhnell Blue Devil, Gasoline, Florida-bred Lure Him In and Miles D.

O’Connor, the son of Boboman, finished the distance in 1:43.80.

O’Connor paid $9.20 to win.

“I know he’s an older horse and he’s run a bunch of times, but it seems like he’s figuring things out right now,” Gaffalione said.

Joseph tried to sort out the series of events in the Harlan’s Holiday.

“A lot of different emotions. Ny Traffic was going good in front, and I don’t know what he did. Javier said he kind of looked at something. Then it looked like O’Connor was going to get [stuck on] the rail and all of a sudden it looked like were going to run second and fourth,” Joseph said. “Then it looked like Ny Traffic was going to win and finally O’Connor came and got the job done at the end. That’s racing. So many different emotions during a short race and thankfully we got the job done. Both horses ran well. Tyler gave [O’Connor] a great ride.”

O’Connor, a multiple-group winner in Chile, finished fourth as the favorite in last season’s Harlan’s Holiday won by Skippylongstocking after an impressive U.S. debut when he won by six lengths against second condition, $62,500 optional claimers.

Joseph, who is also pointing Skippylongstocking to the Pegasus, said the mile-and-one-eighth distance of the Pegasus should suit O’Connor.

“Distance will be better for him,” Joseph said. “He’s probably best at a mile-and-a-quarter.”

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