Mohaymen faces five in Holy Bull Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – There were few surprises when entries were drawn Wednesday for the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, with Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader topping a field of six 3-year-olds set to go 1 1/16 miles Saturday in the first of two key prep races leading up to the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2.
Mohaymen, generally considered the top Kentucky Derby prospect stabled on the East Coast following impressive wins in the Grade 2 Nashua and Grade 2 Remsen, has wowed trainer Kiaran Mclaughlin while working up to the race since arriving at Palm Meadows this winter. Greenpointcrusader is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, having dominated the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park before finishing seventh as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Trainer Dale Romans did opt at the last minute to hold Cherry Wine, an impressive allowance winner here this month, out of the Holy Bull, instead entering Perfect Saint, who was supplemented to the race. Romans said he will train Cherry Wine up to next month’s Fountain of Youth Stakes.
Like the Holy Bull, the Grade 2 Swale and its filly counterpart, the Grade 2 Forward Gal, will feature quality over quantity, with each luring only six entries.
The undefeated and untested Awesome Banner will top the Swale lineup, which also includes Cardio Cowboy, Noholdingbackbear, Ready Dancer, Richie the Bull, and Economic Model. The Forward Gal, also scheduled to be run at seven furlongs, lost some of its luster with the word that Lucy N Ethel, the winner of the Grade 3 Old Hat, would not run. The field consists of Cathryn Sophia, Island Saint, Ballet Diva, Conquest Babayaga, Disco Rose, and a late supple- ment, Dance Kiddo.
Ramon Preciado, who trains Lucy N Ethel but is serving a suspension for a medication violation in Delaware, said Lucy N Ethel sustained a small chip in her ankle coming out of the Old Hat that required surgery. She’ll be sidelined for 90 days.
“It wasn’t anything big, but she’s a nice filly, and we want to do the right thing by her, so she had the surgery, and if all goes well, we can have her back in training again in 90 days,” said Preciado.
Aqueduct: Withers Stakes
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – More so than most trainers with a 3-year-old at this time of year, Jason Servis has reason to be thinking about the Kentucky Derby. But Servis has different goals when considering where and when to run his New Jersey-bred gelding Sunny Ridge.
“I like money, too,” Servis said. “The Derby’s the Derby. Sure, it’d be great, but we’re not desperate for it.”
Perhaps Sunny Ridge will give Servis more reason to be enthusiastic about the Derby after he makes his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. The Withers, run at 1 1/16 miles, is the second of four races for 3-year-olds on this circuit that offer qualifying points to the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
Sunny Ridge has already accrued eight points by virtue of runner-up finishes in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park and the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. Sunny Ridge won the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth, a race that does not offer points. Still, the gelding by Holy Bull has accomplished a lot for a horse who debuted for maiden $40,000 claiming on June 21.
“We always thought he was a nice horse,” Servis said. “Did I sweat out running him for $40,000? He’s a Jersey-bred gelding. Do you lose him first time out? Probably not.”
Sunny Ridge won by a neck that day. He was 61-1 in the Grade 3 Sanford at Saratoga, and though he finished seventh, he was beaten only 3 3/4 lengths. He won the Sapling after that before finishing second to Greenpointcrusader in the Champagne and second, beaten a neck by Exaggerator, in the Delta Jackpot.
In the Sanford, he appeared to not be handling the track in the early stages, as he dropped back nearly nine lengths off the pace. It wasn’t until the stretch that he settled in and came with a run.
Sunny Ridge has been training steadily at Belmont Park, and though he doesn’t show many workouts, he has put in several strong gallops over the training track. Sunny Ridge drew post 7 and will be ridden by Manny Franco in the Withers. He likely will be the second choice behind Flexibility, the Jerome Stakes winner, who drew post 2.
Also entered were Donegal Moon, Cards of Stone, King Kranz, Vorticity, and Adventist.
There will be 10 races on Saturday, and first post will be 12:50 p.m. Eastern. The Withers is carded as the fourth at 1:50 p.m.
Also on Saturday is the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan Stakes, which drew a 10-horse field topped by Dads Caps and Green Gratto, the one-two finishers from last April’s Grade 1 Carter Handicap.
The Toboggan, which will go as Race 9, was twice canceled due to bad weather.
Green Gratto will break from post 10, while Dads Caps drew post 4. Sassicaia, who was not entered the previous two times the race was scheduled, is the newcomer to the field.