Holiday Star repeats in Keeneland's Sycamore Stakes

The reality of speed-loving, dirt-favoring North American racing is such that if you have a horse whose wheelhouse is running long over the turf, options aren't exactly overflowing when condition books arrive.

Holiday Star is one of those venerable sorts who needs a marathon outing on the grass to have his best showing. So it was that the Graham Motion-trainee once again took advantage of the opportunity presented to him during the Keeneland Fall Meet, winning the Grade III, $100,000 Sycamore Stakes for the second straight year when he held off Charming Kitten by half a length on Thursday.

Holiday Star's victory in last year's edition of the 11/2-mile Sycamore marked the first career graded stakes win for the Harlan's Holiday gelding. The now 5-year-old Augustin Stables homebred actually went off form for a bit following that run, finishing off the board in his next three outings, but has gotten his endurance legs back in winning two of his last three starts.

"We always give him the time off and he comes back fresh every year," said Motion, who also saddled fifth-place finisher Divine Oath in the nine-horse field. "I think spacing out his races helps perhaps. He's very consistent and he puts a lot into his races.

"You're limited (in spots) obviously, you can pick them out pretty easily. But that's good because you can also space out his year."

With 11,952 taking in a perfect fall day at the track, Holiday Star sat an ideal trip under jockey Edgar Prado, cantering along in an outside path in fourth as Patrioticandproud carved out the opening half mile in 51.86.

Holiday Star had pulled himself up to third approaching the final turn and emerged wide down the middle of the track from a pack of surging challengers late, hitting the wire in 2:33.06 over a firm turf.

"I had a beautiful trip. He came running out of the gate," Prado said. "There was not much pace in the race, and he was very comfortable just galloping along. When I asked him, he really kicked in."

Charming Kitten, the 2-to-1 favorite, held for second with St. Albans Boy a half length back in third.

With Holiday Star's sixth win in 19 career starts secured, Motion said he might give the bay gelding the rest of 2015 off to get him right for a 2016 campaign.

"I don't know if we'll run him again this year, maybe we'll come back here in the spring," Motion said.