The $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) will once again prove to be a pivotal stop on the Road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where the Triple Crown potential of many starters will hinge on how they handle the two-turns of the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
Trainer Robert "Butch" Reid Jr. will saddle Maximus Mischief for the Holy Bull with the confidence the son of Into Mischief won't be sidetracked on the Triple Crown trail by distance limitations. While others in the field will be stretching out around two turns for the first time in the Holy Bull, Maximus Mischief will actually be cutting back in distance for his 2019 debut.
2019 Holy Bull Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 11 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:13 PM
|1||Garter and Tie||6-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|2||Federal Case||5-1||Javier Castellano
|3||Epic Dreamer||10-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|5||Harvey Wallbanger||8-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
|7||Come On Gerry||10-1||Robby Albarado
|8||Maximus Mischief||5-2||Jose Ortiz
|Robert Reid, Jr.|
|9||Gladiator King||25-1||Carlos Montalvo
|10||Going for Gold||30-1||Albin Jimenez
|Robert Hess, Jr.|
"He's already been a mile and an eighth, which I think is a pretty good advantage. It puts us a little bit ahead of the curve with the other 3-year-olds around," Reid said. "We have an opportunity to run him a mile and a sixteenth, a distance we know he can handle, and the timing was just perfect for us."
Maximus Mischief, who romped to commanding victories at sprint distances at Parx in his first two starts, successfully stretched out around two turns in his most recent start, scoring a 2 1/4-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 1.
Owned by Chuck Zacney's Cash is King LLC and Glenn Bennett's LC Racing, Maximus Mischief was purchased for $340,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds-in-training sale. The Kentucky-bred colt paid immediate dividends with a dazzlingly 8 3/4-length triumph in his Sept. 29 debut and a six-length victory in a seven-furlong first-level allowance Oct. 20. His two Parx showings earned him a trip to Aqueduct for his stakes debut in the Remsen, in which he set the pace and drew off in the stretch.
"It's really great. The owners, Chuck Zacney and Glenn Bennett, stepped up at the sales and gave me an opportunity like this and I'm really appreciative of that," Reid said. "We're looking forward to the Holy Bull. We'll have to see what the competition looks like and go from there, but no excuses for him right now. He's doing very well."
Maximus Mischief is scheduled to face nine rivals in the Holy Bull on Saturday's 12-race program that will also feature the $150,000 Swale (G3) and $150,000 Forward Gal (G3).
"He's a handful of horse. He's a big, strong colt but he's never about being nervous or unsure. He's got a lot of confidence in himself so he doesn't worry about all the extraneous stuff. We do that more than he does," Reid said. "It's just a matter of making sure he gets enough exercise to keep him mentally where we want him.'
The undefeated colt has worked three time since arriving from Parx to Gulfstream Park, including a sharp 58.02-second five-furlong breeze, the fastest of 57 clockings at the distance. Jan. 19.
"He's been training very well here. He has a big, strong gallop every day and his [first] two breezes here were maybe a little faster than we wanted him to go, but he's really handled it well," said Reid, whose trainee produced a 50.06-second half-mile maintenance breeze Monday. "He's held his weight well and he's eating everything in sight, so we couldn't be any happier with him."
Jose Ortiz will ride Maximus Mischief for the first time Saturday.
Centennial Farms' Mihos is set for his two-turn debut in the Holy Bull after making a victorious stakes debut in the Dec. 6 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream. The James Jerkens-trained colt made a five-wide move from off the pace to capture the one-turn mile by a neck over pacesetter Trophy Chaser.
"The one-turn races are funny. They slowed up the last part because they went so fast early. That's why we want to get this two-turn race into him early on to give him some experience at it, instead of waiting a month," Jerkens said. "As long as he is doing well, I didn't see any reason not to run."
In his Sept. 23 debut at Belmont, Mihos closed to finish third at six furlongs behind Vekoma, who went on to capture the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct in his next start. Mihos went on to break his maiden at six furlongs in his next start at Aqueduct before shipping to South Florida. The son of Cairo Prince has given his trainer confidence that he will successfully handle to Saturday's stretch-out.
"He seems to handle everything. He hasn't been difficult to rate. I think he should be OK," Jerkens said. "He's got good endurance, good wind. It's something you have to build up to, that's why I like to get him going earlier than later.
"He's got nice length to him. He has a nice top line, nice balance," Jerkens added. "He's got a great attitude."
John Velazquez is set to ride Mihos for the first time Saturday.
Garter and Tie
Better Farm's Garter and Tie, who finished a troubled third in the Mucho Macho Man, is set for a return in the Holy Bull. The Ralph Nicks-trained colt hit the gate while leaving his rail post position in the Mucho Macho Man before recovering to finish a commendable third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Mihos. The homebred son of Brooks 'n Down previously won the one-turn mile Smooth Air at Gulfstream. Garter and Tie finished a distant second to Well Defined in the $400,000 Florida Sire Stakes In Reality at 1 1/.16 miles after capturing the $200,000 FSS Affirmed at seven furlongs.
Tyler Gaffalione has the return mount.
Robert and Lawana Low's Federal Case, like Mihos, will enter the Holy Bull off a victory in a one-turn mile at Gulfstream. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt pressed the pace before capturing a first-level optional claiming allowance Dec. 23, finishing a neck ahead of Frosted Grace.
"I thought he closed well and ran down a nice horse late, and he's trained well since then," Pletcher said. "We're looking forward to stretching him out further."
Federal Case was purchased by the Lows following the son of Gemologist's seven-furlong debut victory at Keeneland Oct. 19.
"We were pleased that he was able to win first time we started him stretching him out to a mile," Pletcher said. "He gives us the impression, watching him train, that he's looking to go around two turns, and we felt like in light of how well he's been training we're going to give the Holy Bull a shot."
Javier Castellano has the mount.
Rounding out the field will be Epic Dreamer, who finished ahead of Mihos while finishing second behind Vekoma in his debut; Harvey Wallbanger, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his 2018 finale; Gladiator King, the winner of the Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs three starts back; Going for Gold, who has finished second in both career starts; and the Dale Romans-trained duo of Come on Gerry, a sharp front-running maiden winner at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream in his second career start, and Everfast.
About the Holy Bull Stakes
The Holy Bull Stakes is the first Florida prep race for 3-year-olds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The race 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.
Grade 2 winner Maximus Mischief, undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old, tops 24 horses nominated to the $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes (G2) Saturday, February 2 at Gulfstream Park.
Following the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes Jan. 5, the 30th running of the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull for 3-year-olds is the next step on Gulfstream's road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 30, and headlines a program of five graded-stakes for sophomores worth $850,000 in purses.
Maximus Mischief romped in his first two starts of 2018, winning by a combined 14 ¾ lengths at Parx, where trainer Robert E. `Butch' Reid is based. He stepped up and stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen (G2) December 1 at Aqueduct, beating his six rivals by 2 ¼ lengths.
Since the Remsen, Maximus Mischief has had two works this month over Gulfstream's main track, the most recent a five-furlong breeze in 58.02 seconds Jan. 19, fastest of 57 horses. The son of Grade 1 winner Into Mischief will have one more work prior to his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull.
"He'll have one more breeze over the weekend, and he should be all set up for next week's race," Reid said between races Wednesday. "I know it's going to be crazy, but I think I want to get it in Saturday because it looks like rain on Sunday. We're kind of flexible toward the weekend but if we can fit it in on Saturday, we're going to try to do that."
Also prominent among Holy Bull nominees are Mucho Macho Man winner Mihos; Mike Maker-trained stakes winners Dunph and Henley's Joy, the latter Grade 3-placed on turf; 2018 Tremont Stakes winner Our Braintrust, recently purchased by Gary Barber and moved to trainer Mark Casse; Federal Case, unbeaten in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher; stakes winners Five Star General, Garter and Tie, Gladiator King and Well Defined; and recent Gulfstream maiden winners Come On Gerry, Fed Fever, Global Campaign and High Crime.