A small, select field of six colts are set to contest the first of three Florida prep races for this year’s Triple Crown Trail in Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Since 2000, only two colts who have hit the board in the Holy Bull did the same in the Kentucky Derby. Barbaro in 2006 and Closing Argument (2nd) in 2005. Two contenders from last year’s Holy Bull, Frosted and Keen Ice, matured later in the year to finish second and third in the Belmont Stakes. All of the colts in this year’s 1 1/16 mile contest are coming out of races at a mile or farther, so distance won’t be an issue. The first four finishes will earn entry points towards the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
MOHAYMEN (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) will be the overwhelming favorite. The pretty gray colt is undefeated and untested in three starts. He proved middle distances were within his scope in the 1 1/8 mile Remsen Stakes. Mohaymen’s dam, Justwhistledixie is a multiple graded stakes winner who captured Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin prepped Mohaymen with a solid 5F :59 breeze, so the colt should have no excuses. Mohaymen is a half brother to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero New Year’s Day and their dam captured the 1 1/8 mile Bonnie Miss (G-2). Additionally, Mohaymen has Rasmussen Factor inbreeding (inbred to a blue hen within five generations) to Foggy Note through the full siblings Relaunch and Moon Glitter. Inbreeding to a blue hen has proven to be a positive breeding factor resulting in many high level stakes winners.
On His Heels
CONQUEST BIG E (Tapit – Seeinsbelieven, by Carson City) was tossed into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile directly after winning his maiden. The task was too daunting for the pretty gray colt, and he tired to finish eighth. Conditioned by Mark Casse, the son of Tapit returned a month later to dominate allowance runners by two lengths and the confidence booster should help. Conquest Big E is a half to Aquapazza, a stakes winner at Evangeline Downs. Their dam hit the board in 7 of 18 starts as a sprinter. Conquest Big E may find 1 1/16 miles at the top of his distance range. The colt’s speed figures have improved in each start and he has a strong breeze pattern. Mike Smith flies in from California to ride.
GREENPOINTCRUSADER (Bernardini – Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) is a full brother to the lightly raced and talented 2016 Freshman Sire Algorithms. His dam is in line for blue hen status, as she’s foaled the colt’s half brothers, G1 winning sprinter Justin Phillip; G2 sprinter Keyed Entry; G3 miler Successful Mission and turf stakes winning turf filly Alex’s Allure. Greenpointcrusader won the Champagne Stakes (G1). In his next start in the BC Juvenile, he was far back early and made a belated eight-wide move. He gained a little ground, but was no threat. The Dominick Schettino trainee shows a slow to middling series of works at Palm Meadows. The one run closer may be at a disadvantage in this short field unless an unexpected speed duel develops.
Hoping to Place Fourth
FRONTIER RANGER (U S Ranger – Earthly Angel, by Crafty Prospector) may be the best of the second level trio. I’m not convinced that dirt or two turns is his game. The gelding recently raced twice at 1 1/16 miles over good turf and fast dirt. He closed strongly over the turf to just miss by ¾ length, in a contest filled with glacial fractions. Frontier Ranger made another decent move in his last race, making another late run to miss second place by ½ length in an allowance race. Holy Bull contender Perfect Saint was in the same race and finished a far back eighth.
PERFECT SAINT (Pleasantly Perfect – Santa Gertrudis (IRE), by Machiavellian) has won once in five starts. The only two times that he hit the board, the Dale Romans colt pressed the pace. Perfect Saint has been far back in the rest of his starts and he’s either too slow or just not interested in being that far back. The colt may need more distance and possibly another try over the turf. His third dam Dahlia was a champion turf mare and a blue hen. However, this particular branch hasn’t lived up to the breeding.
FELLOWSHIP (Awesome of Course – Go Girlfriend Go, by Demidoff) has hit the board in five of eight starts, mainly against state-bred company. However, in his last start in the Mucho Macho Stakes for open company, trainer Stanly Gold had to send a search party out to find Fellowship, who finished 16 lengths behind. There’s some minor blacktype in Fellowship’s distaff line and the colt could develop into a nice state-bred winner. However, he’s outclassed here.
Track bias: Pace setters/pressers win 75% of the races held at 1 1/16 miles. Horses that have a previous race over the track do well in the Holy Bull.
It’s hard to see past Mohaymen. It’s a small field and he can easily control the pace. Conquest Big E might run with him, and the two Tapit colts could make a race of it. Mohaymen should be stronger the farther he goes while Conquest Big E may find 1 1/16 miles at the top of his range. If Greenpointcrusader sits closer to the pace or Conquest Big E tires, Greenpointcrusader could take aim on Mohaymen. Frontier Ranger could clunk up for fourth far behind the top three. Let’s make it a Tapit one-two.
#2 MOHAYMEN (6-5)
#4 CONQUEST BIG E (7-2)
#5 GREENPOINTCRUSADER (8-5)