Harlan Punch made short work of three rivals in Saturday's Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park, taking command at the start and never being seriously threatened en route to a 5 1/4-length victory under Joe Bravo. Owned and trained by David Jacobson, the 5-year-old gelded son of Harlan's Holiday out of Indy Punch, by Pulling Punches covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.53. Page McKenney – co-favored with Harlan Punch at odds of 6-5 – finished second, with Backsideofthemoon 1 1/2 lengths back in third and Imperative a distant fourth. Harlan Punch paid $4.40.
Three horses – Enough Is Enough, Hit It Once More and Red Rifle – were scratched.
Harlan Punch was winning for the eighth time in 31 career starts and first in a graded stakes. He's won 7-of-14 since Jacobson claimed him from Tom Amoss in August 2017 for $40,000 at Saratoga.
Harlan Punch was coming out of a fifth-place finish after setting the pace for the opening mile of the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out Stakes at Belmont Park May 4. In the Iselin, Bravo took command immediately, setting fractions of :24.93, :48.82, 1:12.53 and 1:37.94 en route to his final clocking. Page McKenna, an 8-year-old bidding for his 23rd career win, was the closest pursuer for much of the way, with Backsideofthemoon just to his inside – though neither could ever mount a serious challenge. Imperative stumbled at the start and trailed throughout.
“Joe Bravo rode him perfectly, as he always does for me,” said Jacobson. “A perfect ride and the race just set up perfectly for us. When that horse gets to the lead he's tough. He gets in front and he gets his ears up, he relaxes and he's tough to beat. It's the first of many more graded stakes for him I hope.”
“I'm probably the biggest Page McKenney fan there is but when you've got a horse that is lone speed it's hard to beat,” said Bravo. “He was out there by himself. He ran off with me. He was the best horse and he was out there by himself. It's hard to catch a walking dog.”
The Iselin was part of The MATCH Series in the male route division.
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