Holy Bull… It’s That Time Of The Year In Horse Racing!

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Things are starting to brew as we all jump aboard the Derby Trail!

The end of January marks the start of the South Florida Prep Series leading up  to the Florida Derby and it all starts today with the Holy Bull Stakes.  I can’t believe how quickly time has passed, and we are all starting to form our own opinions on who’s got what it takes to earn a prestigious  spot in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

A wide open filed of eleven colts will be lined up to go  1- 1/16 miles. For most, this will be the first time stretching out 2-turns, but for a few– they have ran and actually won at today’s distance.

Here’s the field of 3-year olds  in the Holy Bull Stakes:

Grade III Holy Bull Stakes
Gulfstream Park
1 1/16 Mile
Post Time: 5:03 ET

Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Wt Trainer
1 Coup de Grace (KY) 4-1 J. Velazquez 116 C. Brown
2 Financial Mogul (KY) 10-1 J. Ortiz 116 R. Violette Jr.
3 Best Plan Yet (FL) 20-1 E. Zayas 120 S. Gold
4 Almost Famous (KY) 8-1 C. Borel 116 P. Byrne
5 Our Caravan (KY) 15-1 C. Lanerie 116 M. Dilger
6 **Mr Speaker (KY) 5-1 J. Lezcano 120 C. McGaughey III
7 Cairo Prince (KY) 3-1 L. Saez 122 K. McLaughlin
8 Wicked Strong (KY) 8-1 J. Castellano 116 J. Jerkens
9 Conquest Titan (KY) 12-1 S. Bridgmohan 116 M. Casse
10 Big Bazinga (KY) 20-1 J. Bravo 116 K. Vassilleva
11 Intense Holiday (KY) 6-1 J. Rosario 116 T. Pletcher

**All will run with Lasix but Mr Speaker

The probable favorite will be the son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, Cairo Prince.  In his last race- The Remsen-G2, he was willing to dual Honor Code in the stretch and tried hard to win, but lost the battle by a nose. His jockey Luis Saez also made an error by possibly moving too soon. Hopefully he knows the horse better and plans to give him a better ride.  Cairo Prince has adjusted pretty well to South Florida and has put together very nice work patterns. He’ll most likely sit off the pace and will do the “Gulf Stream move” by swinging off the rail, turning for home and rallying to the lead.  Pace setter/pressers win 75% of the races held at Gulfstream at 1 -1/16 and he should be okay in post position 7. Horses in post 8+ will be at a disadvantage and depending on the running style will have to exert a little more energy to find a comfortable spot in the race.

An interesting statistic to note is that since 2008, only three favorites have won the Holy Bull; the last one was Hey Byrn in 2008. If Cairo Prince goes off the favorite, will he be able to break this trend?

The colt I like in this race is Wicked Strong who also ran in the Remsen-G2. Still a bit green and needs some maturing he was able to finish within 1/2 length from Honor Code and Cairo Prince at the finish line. Each of the Remsen-G2 quarters was faster than the previous which is not often seen. If you watched the race it may have appeared like he was flying home to slow fractions, but he actually ran a legitimate race since each quarter was faster than the previous. If that experience was tucked away for reference — this guy may be a legitimate sleeper. Also nice to see Javier Castellano onboard (which I’d like to note that he has won twice aboard Coup de Grace, and usually #1 call rider for Chad Brown). He had a sharp 5f workout on January 19th and has the perfect running style suited for this race!

I may toss a few bucks on Almost Famous who is the other front dirt speed in this race, and has been successful at today’s distance.  He won his most recent race in a gallop around two turns without pressure and will be outside of Coup de Grace. He’s had a sharp 4f work on January. A good sign is that Calvin Borel is coming in from his Oaklawn base and rode for the same connections when Take Charge Indy made the pace winning the 2012 Florida Derby. Can Borel do a re-peat skimming the rail with this speedy colt? Hence, the name — Almost Famous!  We’ll see in few…

So begins the separation of the contenders from the pretenders in what is the start of the most competitive, exciting and intriguing  3-year-old Road to the Roses!

Good Luck to all!

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