Thursday, January 23, 2014

Holy Bull Stakes Preview

After a good week in which we tipped the winner of the LeComte: Vicar's in Trouble, we move on to what is surely the deepest field in a Kentucky Derby prep so far this year. The GII Holy Bull, which was last won by Itsmyluckyday, has been won by such stars as Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument and the dearly departed Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Run over one and a sixteenth miles at Gulfstream, the winner of the Holy Bull will be awarded ten Road to the Kentucky Derby points.




(1/25/2014) Gulfstream Park Race 10: G2 Holy Bull Stakes--
To say this field is absolutely stacked would be an understatement. Highlighted by G2 Nashua winner Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile-Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull), eleven talented three-year-olds line up for this one. The aforementioned Cairo Prince broke his maiden in his first attempt, before impressively winning the Nashua over the likes of Financial Mogul and Noble Moon, who has since gone on to win the G2 Jerome. More recently, he finished a game second when losing by the slimmest of margins to Honor Code in spite of a wider trip and while carrying six more pounds. Also among the favorites will be Coup de Grace, a son of Tapit who is undefeated in two starts, the first of which was over the well regarded Unknown Road. He'll break from the rail and I expect him to figure into the pace of the race up front along with Almost Famous. It's worth noting that he'll have Velazquez aboard after Castellano chose to take the mount on Wicked Strong. A son of Hard Spun out of a Charismatic mare, Wicked Strong defeated Cool Samurai, who won next time out at Santa Anita, but it was his performance in the Remsen that caught people's attention. He was quickly closing on the lead duo in that race despite a very slow early pace. He did, however, run a bit greenly at times and did react very badly when the stick was used. Mr. Speaker is intriguing, as he has won two straight, but has only raced on turf to this point. There are plenty of dirt influences in this son of Pulpit's pedigree, so I don't expect the surface switch to be an issue, but he did get a dream trip last time out and I'm more inclined to think he's just not quite good enough in this spot. Our Caravan has only ran once, in which was sent off at big odds, but he won by three over course and distance. My choice is Conquest Titan. This son of Birdstone out of a Mineshaft mare is bred to route. He's twice ran at the distance and although he didn't factor into the finishes in either of those races, he had legitimate excuses. The Breeders' Futurity was run at a very slow pace in very difficult conditions from a weather standpoint and he flashed speed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile before he was for all intents and purposes pulled up when a speed duel ensued up front. He came right back, however, to win over a mile at Churchill Downs with a new tactic, as he was held up in the back and made one run to the front. The runner-up in that race has since come back to win the Gulfstream Park Derby. By all accounts, he worked well in company with Coastline, who finished third in the Smarty Jones Stakes, in preparation for this race and if the early fractions are speedy, expect him to be a major threat at a price.

Picks:
Win: #9 Conquest Titan (ML 12/1), Place: #7 Cairo Prince (ML 3/1), Show: #8 Wicked Strong (ML 8/1)



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