Hat Trick's cleverly named 3-year-old son Howe Great became the first two-time stakes winner of 2012 for his sire with a handy one-length victory in the $150,000 Palm Beach S. (G3) on March 11 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO
). Howe Great is carrying the leading earner banner this year for the Gainesway stallion, who is in the top 20 on the Second Crop Sires' list.
Howe Great, a stablemate of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, could also be headed for the first leg of the Triple Crown despite having yet to start on traditional dirt. He broke his maiden on the synthetic surface at Parx and won Gulfstream's Kitten's Joy S. on Jan. 21.
In the nine furlong Palm Beach, Howe Great switched from his normal front-running style to stalking the pace set by Scorcher for the first six furlongs. He took over the top spot entering the stretch and safely held off Dullahan to stop the timer in a lively 1:46.56.
“We talked about it before the race and decided the logical spot for him, if he did well today, would be to go to the Blue Grass (G1),” said winning trainer Graham Motion of the stakes at Keeneland on April 14, ‘and see where we go from there.”
“He was on the inside but didn’t seem to mind. Around the half-mile pole I squeezed him just a little and he popped right back onto the bridle and from there I made sure to save something for the stretch,” said John Velazquez, who rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the Derby. “When I asked him in the stretch, he responded right away. It’s fun to ride the kind of horses that run as soon as you ask them.”
Howe Great is 3-for-3 on the Gulfstream lawn – he was an impressive allowance winner on Dec. 15 – and has won four of five overall. With the $90,000 Palm Beach payday, he has now earned $211,500 for owner/breeder Barry Irwin's Team Valor International.