A field of 10 lines up on Saturday in the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2), the first chance for three-year-olds to hop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby at the Florida racetrack.
Remsen (G3) winner Maximus Mischief is the even money morning line favorite and looks to remain perfect as he makes his fourth career start and first with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard.
The Holy Bull is worth 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby. The race serves as a steppingstone toward the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 2 and the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 30.
There are two other Road to the Kentucky Derby points races on Saturday afternoon—the $250,000 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct and the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita.
The Holy Bull goes through Maximus Mischief, who made his first two starts at Parx Racing, then won the Remsen (G3) at Aqueduct in his stakes debut.
“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,” his trainer Robert 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.”
The second choice on the morning line at 5-2 is the Jimmy Jerkens trained Mihos. The colt won the Mucho Macho Man by a neck going a mile over the Gulfstream Park main track in his stakes debut.
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“He seems to handle everything. He hasn’t been difficult to rate. I think he should be okay,” 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.”
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park as well as the trio of Kentucky Derby prep races.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 11 The Holy Bull G2 Post time 5:13 ET
1 Garter and Tie 12-1
2 Federal Case 6-1
8 Maximus Mischief 1-1
6 Mihos 5-2
Garter and Tie
The Ralph Nicks trainee hit the gate after breaking inward last out in the Mucho Macho Man, staked the early pace, split rivals in the stretch and finished up well for third, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Mihos. The colt won the Smooth Air two back at a mile. The colt breaks from the rail here and there really is not much early zip signed up to go here. If the jock Gaffalione sends him early or gets a good spot sitting just off the pace, he should get a good trip and has a shot of pulling off an upset. He is out of the stakes winner Garter Belt ($139,255) who has dropped two other winners including multiple stakes winner Twotwentyfive A ($311,628).
This colt makes his stakes debut after winning his first two starts. He broke his maiden in his debut at Keeneland going seven furlongs for Rodolphe Brisset and then landed with the Todd Pletcher barn. In his first start for the new connections the colt pressed the early pace and finished gamely to beat Alw-1 optional claimers by a neck as the chalk. He has worked sharply at Palm Beach Downs since that outing and still appears to have plenty of upside. He was a $650,000 Keeneland purchase, the first foal to race out of an Elusive Quality mare.
This $340,000 purchase is perfect in his three starts. The colt broke his maiden by 8 ¾ lengths with ease and then trounced Alw-1 foes by six lengths, those trips coming at Parx. He stepped into deeper waters last out in the Remsen (G2) at nine furlongs at Aqueduct and showed he is the real deal, winning by 2 ¼ lengths. Trained by Robert Reid, he picks up Jose Ortiz here. He has been leading early in all three of his starts but last out was able to set slow early fractions. I have a hunch Ortiz may try to rate him here and at even money I’ll take a stab we can beat him for the top spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 8-1 or better.
EXACTA: 1,2 / 1,2,6,8
TRIFECTA: 1,2 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8