The $250,000 Holy Bull (G3)
is the first of three Gulfstream Park qualifiers for the 2022 Kentucky Derby and is followed by the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 5 and the Florida Derby on April 2.
A field of nine 3-year-old colts and geldings will contest 1 1/16-miles, including two Breeders’ Cup runner-ups and champion Songbird’s full brother.
The most likely winners are one of the three low-priced favorites, Mo Donegal, White Abarrio, and Giant Game. However, White Abarrio and Giant Game must overcome the dreaded outside posts.
Let’s take a closer look at the field.
Mo Donegal (3-1) was all heart in the Remsen running shoulder to shoulder with his rival Zandon, who was pinned on the rail. The Pletcher trainee has been keeping good company in the mornings; he went head and head with Pegasus Turf hero Colonel Liam in a five-furlong move on Jan. 8. Win Contender
(6-1) lacked racing room in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes stretch, finally getting room just a half-furlong from home. He kicked it into gear and passed pulling horses to grab third place. It was an excellent effort for the pretty gray colt who shipped in from Gulfstream, tried two turns, and rated for the first time. The Kentucky Jockey Club produced Lecomte winner Call Me Midnight. The Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee fired a pre-race four-furlong bullet. Win contender.
(7-2) gave a good account against accomplished stakes horses to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his second start. He’s been breezing spectacularly at Gulfstream, and Dale Romans drilled Giant Game through three consecutive five-furlong bullets in January, which the colt completed effortlessly. If he loses, he won’t be from lack of fitness. Win contender.
Songbird’s full brother galt (10-1) is a large, scopey, two-turn type who needed time to mature. Nevertheless, the Mott trainee was professional in his last start, skimming the rail behind a wall of horses, then shifting outside for racing room. It was all over once he saw daylight, and Galt drew off by three lengths. According to Stats Race Lens, Bill Mott’s last-out maiden winners have an 18 percent success rate in their next start. Exotics.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Tiz The Bomb (5-1) takes another shot on the dirt in an experiment to find out if he has Kentucky Derby potential. The Ken McPeek trainee won his maiden over Ellis Park’s main track by 14 1/4 lengths against a weak field and showed class and talent in the Juvenile Turf. On the negative side, how he’ll handle dirt in his face if he doesn’t get the lead is a wildcard. Tiz The Bomb has high knee action and doesn’t drop his head when he runs. Exotics.
Spinwheel (20-1) showed athleticism in his third start, cutting the corner and weaving around a tiring horse to motor across the line first, getting up by a nose in a 1 1/8 mile maiden event. Only one of his competitors hits the board in their next race; however, the Hard Spun colt earned a 101 Brisnet late-pace speed rating. Rusty Arnold gets ten percent winners from last-out maiden winners and is zero for six in dirt roads this meet. However, If Leparoux can pull off a similar ride in the Holy Bull, Spin Wheel is worth a live longshot exotics play.
(4-1) made it look easy winning the Mucho Macho Man Stakes by four widening lengths in a sprightly 1:35. However, the Antonio Sano trainee needs to beat his win/lose cycle, and his only victories are as a pacesetter. He could slow things down as lone speed, but I think a runner-up position is more likely if he’s pressed. There are others in here I like better, including his stablemate. pass.
Eloquist (20-1) broke slow in the Remsen and in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream. He was one-paced in both starts, finishing in a different zip code. Additionally, he’s recorded only two tepid works in the last three months, and his final breeze was a slow gallop. pass.
Cajun’s Magic (10-1) takes on open company after competing in the Florida Sire stakes series. The Michael Yates trainee won the first, the six-furlong Dr. Fager, but settled for a very distant second in the next two legs. Cajun’s Magic has a sprinter/miler pedigree and conformation, and none of his half-siblings have been successful beyond a mile. pass.
All Holy Bull winners hit the board in their last race and made between two and four previous starts in the last decade, except for Itsmyluckyday, who made eight.
Pace presses were the most successful, and the favorite always finished in the top three. In the last dozen years, only two horses have won from posts 8 and 9.
Simplification could be lone speed or pressed by Giant Game, White Abarrio, and Cajun’s Magic.
Mo Donegal could follow in the hoofprints of Mohayman, who completed the Remsen/Holy Bull double. Plus, Pletcher is in his usual position as leading trainer, and Irad Ortiz Jr. is winning at a 29 percent clip. Surprisingly, Ortiz is looking for his first Holy Bull victory.
Giant Game should be ready for prime time. Although he has tactical speed, he’ll be wide the entire way. I don’t see Saez gutting Giant Game to win his first race back.
White Abarrio will also go wide around the first turn and press the pace. However, he could have enough left in the tank, and Tyler Gaffalione is certainly capable of booting home a winner.
Galt is the best-bred colt in the breed. Unfortunately, he drew the rail again and will need running room in the stretch. Maybe Junior Alvarado can ride the rail, but I suspect he’ll be hunting for a way out of traffic when they hit the eighth pole.
Tiz The Bomb is the mystery horse. Will Brian Hernandez Jr. take him to the outside to avoid kickback? Send him to press Simplification? There’s no doubting the talent, and I may regret leaving him off my top four.
2. Mo Donegal (3-1)
8. White Abarrio (6-1)
9. Giant Game (7-2)
1. Galt (10-1)