2018 Holy Bull Stakes - Road to the Kentucky Derby

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Gulfstream Park Press Release | OTB Writer

The Holy Bull Stakes is the first Florida prep race for 3-year-olds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Just a week after hosting the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), the world's richest race, Gulfstream Park gets the graded portion of its prestigious series of stakes for 3-year-olds under way with the 29th running of the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2).

The Holy Bull gives points to the top four finishers that will help them earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The Holy Bull Stakes is named for Hall of Fame racehorse Holy Bull and run at Gulfstream Park over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.

Led by 2017 Breeders' Futurity (G1) winner Free Drop Billy, a total of 26 3-year-olds were nominated for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, one of five graded stakes worth $950,000 in purses on the Saturday, Feb. 3 program.

Free Drop Billy was second in the Sanford (G3) and Hopeful (G1) last summer at Saratoga before his breakthrough, four-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. He capped the year finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

A chestnut son of 2012 Belmont (G1) winner Union Rags, Free Drop Billy joins Dale Romans-trained stablemates Bandito, Ellis Park Juvenile winner Dak Attack, multiple graded-stakes placed Hollywood Star, Jerome runner-up Seven Trumpets and Tiz Mischief and Promises Fulfilled, second and third, respectively, in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), among Holy Bull nominees.

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Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin nominated a pair of graded stakes winners in Avery Island and Enticed, both owned by Godolphin Racing. Avery Island, by 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense, won the one-mile Nashua (G2) Nov. 5 at Aqueduct and was second in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) four weeks later.

Enticed, a son of multiple Grade 1 winner Medaglia d'Oro, broke his maiden at first asking and was third to Firenze Fire and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic in the Champagne (G1) before edging Tiz Mischief by a head in the Kentucky Jockey Club Nov. 25.

Other graded winners among nominees are Flameaway, who captured the Bourbon (G3) over a sloppy track before returning to turf to take the Kitten's Joy Jan. 6 at Gulfstream; and Untamed Domain, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom that has raced exclusively on grass including a win in the Summer (G2) at Woodbine and a second by a length in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

Gulfstream's 14-time defending Championship Meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher, winner of last year's Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream and Kentucky Derby, nominated seven horses including Noble Indy and Vino Rosso, both undefeated through two starts; Audible, a winner of two straight; multiple stakes winner Bal Harbour; recent Gulfstream maiden winner Navistar; and multiple stakes-placed Pony Up.

Diamond King, a winner of three of four starts including the Heft Stakes Dec. 30 at Laurel Park last out; Miss Mo Mentum, an 8 ¾-length winner of the one-mile Hut Hut Dec. 9 at Gulfstream; and Speed Franco, winner of the Pulpit over Gulfstream's turf on the same card, are also nominated.

2018 Holy Bull Stakes Odds & Entries

Race 12 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:49 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Enticed 3-1 Joel Rosario Kiaran McLaughlin
2 Free Drop Billy 6-1 Luis Saez Dale Romans
3 Master Manipulator 20-1 Jose Ortiz Eric Guillot
4 Audible 6-1 Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher
5 Bandito 20-1 Edgard Zayas Dale Romans
6 Hollywood Star 12-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr. Dale Romans
7 Tiz Mischief 4-1 Robby Albarado Dale Romans
8 Pony Up 8-1 John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
9 Tip Sheet 30-1 Emisael Jaramillo Stanley Gold
10 Aequor 15-1 Jose Lezcano Gustavo Delgado
11 Mississippi 5-1 Julien Leparoux Mark Casse

5 Fast Facts about the Holy Bull Stakes

1. The Holy Bull is named for the 1994 Horse of the Year and 2001 Hall of Fame inductee who won 13 of 16 career starts, including the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. Despite running 12th as the 2-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and skipping the remaining Triple Crown races, Holy Bull won divisional honors as champion three-year-old and Horse of the Year on the basis of eight stakes wins, among them dominating scores against older horses in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Woodward (G1). Holy Bull died at the age of 26 on June 7, 2017.

2. Inaugurated in 1990 as the Preview Stakes, the race was renamed after Holy Bull in 1996. Ironically, the first future Kentucky Derby winner to win the race was Go for Gin, who captured the 1994 edition of the Derby that Holy Bull lost. The only other colt to turn the Holy Bull-Kentucky Derby double was the ill-fated Barbaro in 2006. Funny Cide ran fifth in the Holy Bull before taking the 2003 Derby.

3. After the Gulfstream main track was expanded from one mile to 1 1/8 miles in 2005, the Holy Bull underwent several distance changes before reverting back to its traditional 1 1/16-mile trip in 2013. The Holy Bull was run at 1 1/8 miles in 2005-06 and 2009, at one mile in 2007 and from 2010-12, and at 1 3/16 miles in 2008.

4. Earlier in the century, the Holy Bull supplanted the seven-furlong Hutcheson (G3) as Gulfstream's leading prelude to its most important Kentucky Derby preps, the Fountain of Youth (G2) and the Florida Derby. The change was in response to shifting attitudes of horsemen who preferred keeping their leading Derby contenders running at a mile or longer rather than shortening them up to a sprint to start their three-year-old campaigns.

5. The Holy Bull has the been the stage of notable upsets this decade involving the previous year's two-year-old champion. Both Hansen (2012) and Shanghai Bobby (2013) finished second in the Holy Bull at odds of 9-10 and 1-1, respectively. In 2017, Classic Empire was a well-beaten third as an even stronger 1-2 favorite.

(5 Fast Facts written by Vance Hanson/Brisnet.com)

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