2022 Holy Bull Stakes Contenders at Gulfstream Park

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Edited Gulfstream Park Press Release
Updated: February 02, 2022

G3 Holy Bull Offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby Points To Top-Four Finishers

Donegal Racing's Mo Donegal is poised to make his 2022 debut in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, and his Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has opted for no soft spot for the son of Uncle Mo's highly anticipated return to action.

The 33rd running of the Holy Bull, the first graded-stakes on the Road to the Florida Derby (G1), headlines a 12-race program that will also feature the $100,000 Claiborne Swale (G3), $100,000 Forward Gal (G3), $100,000 Kitten's Joy (G3) and $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3).

2022 Holy Bull Stakes Field & Odds

Race 11 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, February 05 - Post 5:10 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Galt 10-1 Junior Alvarado
118 Lbs
William Mott
2 Mo Donegal 3-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
124 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
3 Eloquist 20-1 Frankie Pennington
118 Lbs
Robert Reid, Jr.
4 Simplification 4-1 Javier Castellano
122 Lbs
Antonio Sano
5 Cajun's Magic 10-1 Jesus Rios
122 Lbs
Michael Yates
6 Tiz the Bomb 5-1 Brian Hernandez, Jr.
124 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek
7 Spin Wheel 20-1 Julien Leparoux
118 Lbs
George Arnold, II
8 White Abarrio 6-1 Tyler Gaffalione
120 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
9 Giant Game 7-2 Luis Saez
118 Lbs
Dale Romans

Although Mo Donegal, 3-1 on the morning line, will be put to the test in a field that includes two Grade 1 stakes-placed opponents, the Pletcher-trained colt has already passed the most rigorous test for all Triple Crown prospects - the two-turn test over 1 1/8-miles. The $250,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September yearling sale enters the Holy Bull off a gutsy triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 4.

"We were pretty focused on the Remsen right after he broke his maiden. We locked in on that and after the race I got with [Donegal Racing's] Jerry Crawford, and we talked about how we could go about getting on the Derby trail. We decided that the Holy Bull was the right starting point," said Pletcher, who saddled Audible (2019) and Algorithms (2012) for Holy Bull victors. "It gives us plenty of options. If he were to run well, we still have the (March 4) Fountain of Youth to come back in if we wanted to or we could train up to the Florida Derby like we did with Audible. We kind of felt like it put us in a position to have the most options."

Mo Donegal finished third in his Sept. 30 debut at Belmont, in which he broke slowly and was subsequently steadied in traffic. He came right back to graduate at 1 1/16-miles despite breaking a step slowly a month later. In the Remsen, Mo Donegal encountered bumping at the start, moved to the lead heading into the stretch, and battled with Zandon to the wire to eke out a triumph by a nose.

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"I'm really pleased with his training since he came here after the Remsen. We targeted this right away and, knock on wood, thankfully everything has gone according to schedule," Pletcher said. "He has not missed a beat since he's been here."

Mo Donegal's Pletcher-trained sire, who captured the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, was 1-for-1 at Gulfstream, where he dominated the Timely Writer Stakes in his 3-year-old debut in March 2011. He takes after Uncle Mo in the looks department.

"Uncle Mo stamps his offspring probably more so than any stallion in the country. He looks like a lot of them do. He's got the same build. He's a good-sized colt," Pletcher said. "He's had a bit of a growth spurt and he's done what you'd like to see 2-year-olds turning 3 and young 3-year-olds this time of year do, growing and physically developing."

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the return mount aboard Mo Donegal, whose opponents will include Kenny McPeek-trained Tiz the Bomb, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar, and Dale Romans-trained Giant Game, third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1.

Phoenix Thoroughbreds LTD's Tiz the Bomb rode a three-race winning streak into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf that started with a dazzling front-running maiden score by 14 ½ lengths in an off-the-turf second-out maiden race at Ellis Park July 2. The son of 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile turf winner Hit It a Bomb went on to capture the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and the Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland from off the pace on turf.

"There are limited opportunities for 3-year-old grass horses in North America. He's a really talented horse and we don't want to lock him in as strictly a grass horse. There's no sense pigeonholing him as a grass horse," McPeek said. "Even last year we could have made a case for keeping him on dirt, but I chose to keep him separated from some of my other colts. At this stage, we're going to give him the opportunity to play on the dirt."

Tiz the Bomb dropped back to 12th while in traffic in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf before rallying strongly to finish second behind Modern Games.

"I thought it was somewhat of an unlucky trip, but he still ran well. It was a respectable run. He ran a good race; he split horses and came flying late. The other horse got a little bit of a jump on him," said McPeek, who saddled Harvey Wallbanger for a 29-1 upset victory in the 2019 Holy Bull.

Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. is scheduled to travel from Fair Grounds for the Holy Bull.

Albaugh Family Stables LLC and West Point Thoroughbreds' Giant Game made a four-wide move into contention in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile before settling for third in his stakes debut. The son of Giants Causeway, who will be ridden by Luis Saez for the first time Saturday, had previously finished third in the debut before graduating by three lengths at Keeneland in his two-turn debut.

C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC's White Abarrio enters the Holy Bull off a third-place finish behind McPeek-trained Smile Happy and Brian Lynch-trained Classic Causeway in the Nov. 27 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.

"He's coming out of a strong prep that Smile Happy won, and he's the Derby favorite right now. The [trainer Keith] Desormeaux horse [Call Me Midnight] that was behind him came back to win the prep at Fair Grounds [G3 Lecomte] the other day, so it's a race that's produced some good form so far," trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. "He's going to face good horses again this time. This is going to be one of the best preps so far on the Derby trail competition-wise, so he's going to need to improve, but we feel like he's eligible to improve."

White Abarrio was purchased privately after romping to a 6 ¾-length victory in his Sept. 24 debut at Gulfstream, where the son of Race Day came right back to score a five-length optional claiming allowance victory over Strike Hard, who went on to finish second in the Jan. 1 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream.

"He's doing well. He missed some time. He got a little sick, so he missed some days, but he was plenty fit before that," Joseph said. "I think he goes in there with a good chance."

Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride White Abarrio for the first time in the Holy Bull.

Tami Bobo's Simplification, who won the Mucho Macho Man by four lengths in front-running style, is expected to set or attend the early pace while stretching out around two turns for the first time.

"The longer the race, the better is it for my horse," trainer Antonio Sano said.

The long-striding son of Not This Time broke his maiden at Gulfstream by 16 ¾ lengths at six furlongs in his second career start. He came back to finish a troubled third again at six-furlongs before impressively stretching out to a mile in the Mucho Macho Man.

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the call on Simplification.

OXO Equine LLC's Galt, who broke his maiden by three lengths while trying two turns for the first time at Gulfstream, Cash is King LLC and LC Racing LLC's Eloquist, who finished fifth in the Remsen; Stonehedge LLC's Cajun's Magic, a strong force in the Florida Sire Stakes series last year; and BBN Racing LLC's Spin Wheel, a maiden winner at Churchill Downs last time out; are also entered in the Holy Bull.

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2022 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) Nominees

FEB 1 - Smile Happy (Lucky Seven Stables), an impressive winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his 2021 finale, is prominent on a list of 39 nominations for the Grade 3, $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday, February 5th at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is the first graded-stakes for 3-year-olds on the Road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), the premier prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Triple Crown April 2.

Undefeated Smile Happy broke his maiden at first asking by 5 ½ lengths at 1 1/16 miles October 29 at Keeneland before scoring a going-away victory by 3 ¼ lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Trainer Kenny McPeek is pointing the son of Runhappy to the Holy Bull, as well as Phoenix Thoroughbred LTD's Tiz the Bomb, who finished a fast-closing second in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar.

The son of Hit It a Bomb graduated in his second career start by 14 ½ lengths on dirt at Ellis Park before winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and the Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland on turf.

Kentucky West Racing LLC and Clarke Cooper Family Living's Classic Causeway and C2 Racing Stable LLC and Milagrosa Stable LLC's White Abarrio, the second and third-place finishers in the Kentucky Jockey Club, respectively, are also on the Holy Bull noms list. Classic Causeway is trained by Brian Lynch, while White Abarrio is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.

Albaugh Family Stables LLC and West Point Thoroughbreds' Giant Game, who finished third in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), is also a familiar name on the noms list. The Dale Romans-trained son of Giant's Causeway broke his maiden at Keeneland by three lengths prior to his trip to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup.

Romans is also represented on the list by Albaugh Family Stables LLC's Howling Time and Mr. Bouma. Howling Time won the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill before fading to fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Mr. Bouma has won one of five starts.

Jeff Drown's Zandon, whom Chad Brown sent out for a runner-up finish in the Remsen at Aqueduct, and Tami Bobo's Simplification, who captured the mile Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream by four lengths last out for trainer Antonio Sano, are also prominent names on the noms list for the Holy Bull.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is represented on the list by eight 3-year-olds, including Donegal Racing's Mo Donegal, the winner of the Remsen at Aqueduct, and WinStar Farm LLC and Siena Farm's Emmanuel and Dean's List. Emmanuel, a son of More Than Ready, was a dazzling debut winner at Gulfstream Dec. 1. Dean's List, a son of Speightstown, is undefeated in two career starts, both during the Championship Meet.

The Holy Bull will be one of four graded stakes for 3-year-olds on the February 5 program, which will also feature the $100,000 Forward Gal (G3), a seven-furlong sprint for fillies; the $100,000 Kitten's Joy (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes, and the $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3), a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies.

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