Holy Bull filled with bona-fide Derby types
There are potential stars running in Florida and New York on Saturday, including a possible rival for Songbird. For the last Saturday in January, this is some serious racing.
The Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park has often been inhabited with real Kentucky Derby contenders. Half of this field is live, starting but definitely not ending with Mohaymen. Unbeaten in three starts, each more impressive than the previous, the $2.2 million son of Tapit checked every 2-year-old box – speed in his debut; a nice rally in his first stakes start, splitting horses at 1 1/8 miles; and earning Beyer Speed Figures of 87, 89, and 95 in the Remsen Stakes.
This is my horse as we get under way, but it is very early. There is very little pace in this race, so how the jockeys ride will be fascinating. Clearly, Mohaymen could be in front, and that might be the wise decision with the other contenders to his outside, but just about any race scenario is possible.
I liked Green point crusader in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. You can put a line through his race. He never really had a chance to run and finished seventh. His other races, with Beyers of 80, 82, and 94 when winning the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, were terrific. John Velazquez rides him for the first time in the Holy Bull. This $575,000 son of Bernardini definitely can win if he comes back to the Champagne form and Mohaymen is not ready to move forward from his 2-year-old season.
Conquest Big E isn’t as fast as the other two, but he has four ascending Beyers – 72, 75, 81, and 84. The $700,000 son of Tapit probably was ridden the wrong way in his eighth-place finish in the BC Juvenile, so I would toss that race. His last was very good, but the competition is dramatically better in this spot.
Flexibility is going to be a huge favorite in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Saturday, as he should be. His trainer, Chad Brown, has done just
about everything in this game already except being a Triple Crown player. This could be the horse who gets him there.
Flexibility has run four winning races but had the misfortune of running into Mohaymen twice. The Beyers – 74, 86, 93, and 90 – are impressive. So is this colt’s motor.
Sunny Ridge is another horse with rising Beyers in each start, going from 62 to 67 to 76 to 86 when second in the Champagne to 92 when second in the Delta Jackpot to Exaggerator. His two best figures were on off tracks, but this looks like an improving horse with a chance to be a player. This is the spot to prove it.
King Kranz has never run beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, but if ridden aggressively, he certainly looks like lone speed in the Withers. I would not pick this horse, but he is not without a chance.
Songbird enters 2016 as the dominant 3-year-old of either sex. No filly was able to warm her up last year, when she won all four of her starts, including the BC Juvenile Fillies.
Check out Cathryn Sophia in the Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park. I have no idea how far this daughter of Street Boss wants to go, but she is really fast. No filly has been near her in her two starts, one at Parx and one at
Laurel Park. She got a 92 in her maiden win when she crushed the field by 12 3/4 lengths. She got a 94 when she won a Laurel stakes by 16 1/4.
Trainer John Servis has had some good 3-year-olds since he won the 2004 Kentucky Derby with Smarty Jones, but this filly might be the most exciting. Owner Cash Is King LLC also has had some nice horses since winning the Preakness and Belmont in 2005 with Afleet Alex, but perhaps none quite like this filly.
On paper, there is other speed in the Forward Gal, but we shall see if any of these fillies is fast enough to hang with Cathryn Sophia.
Green Gratto was having a nice but not overwhelming career until November, when the horse suddenly ripped off three consecutive tripledigit Beyers after being united with the hot jockey Kendrick Carmouche. If Green Gratto clears the field in the Toboggan at Aqueduct on Saturday – as seems likely – and comes back to his recent 101, 101, 107 Beyer series, he will be very tough to catch.
Dads Caps obviously loves the inner track – he has been in the money in all eight of his starts on it – and he is no stranger to triple-digit Beyers, but this will be his first race since June, and he will be chasing a hot horse.
Greenpointcrusader (above) may be Mohaymen’s main foe in the Holy Bull.