From the East to the West along with the sunny coast of Florida, Saturday’s horse racing action kicks off the month of February in grand style. The Withers Stakes at Aqueduct along with the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park are two big Kentucky Derby props on Saturday’s card. However, I decided to focus most of my attention breaking down the probable field for the featured prep event on the card at Gulfstream Park.
It appears that eight promising three-year old thoroughbreds will look to take another big step towards racing at Churchill Downs in May with a win in the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday’s card. This Grade 2 event will be run on the dirt at a distance of 1 1/6 miles.
Tracking the Top Contenders
The anticipation continues to build for trainer Robert Reid’s Maximus Mischief in his three-year old debut. This Kentucky-bred colt earned a 6.37 rating from Horse Racing Nation for his early efforts as a juvenile. That is one of the highest ratings on the board in the projected field for Saturday’s race. He closed out last year with an important victory on Dec. 1 in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. He worked his way past Network Effect and Tax in a closing time of 1:51.34 over the 1 1/8-mile run on dirt. The shorter distance of this race should work in his favor.
The sire of Into Mischief has won his last three events, including a pair of victories at Philadelphia Park in a 5 ½-furlong Maiden Special Weight race on Sept. 29 followed by a win in a seven-furlong Allowance race on Oct. 20.
Another one of the favorites to win Saturday’s main event at Gulfstream is trainer James Jerkens’ Mihos. This three-year old Kentucky-bred colt may not be as highly touted as Reid’s prized entry, but he does come into this race with the highest HRN rating in the projected field at 6.62. One of the big reasons for that lofty number is a victory in the ungraded Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 5 in his three-year old debut. He covered the one-mile distance on dirt in 1:37.56 over Trophy Chaser and Garter And Tie. Winning at this same track less than a month ago adds value to his chances to start this month with a win.
The son of Cairo Prince actually has a progeny that can be traced back to Holy Bull as an added plus. In an early race as a juvenile, he took third at Belmont Park in a six-furlong Maiden Special Weight event. The longer distance of this race will be a good test against a stronger field.
One to Watch
There are some interesting choices moving a bit further down the list of probable’s for this year’s Holy Bull, including trainer Dale Romans’ Come On Gerry. However, my one to watch in this race is famed trainer Todd Pletcher’s Federal Case. As one of his more promising prospects on this year’s Kentucky Derby Trail, this Kentucky-bred colt will be making his three-year old debut in his first graded stakes event. He went a perfect 2-2 as a juvenile with victories at Keeneland in a seven-furlong MSW race on Oct. 19 before moving to the mile distance at Gulfstream in a late-December win in an Allowance Claimer.
This pedigree of Gemologist has earned a solid 6.34 rating from HRN based more on his potential and strong blood line. However, he has the ability to meet those expectations with a strong showing in this race.