PRICEY PRIME FACTOR AMONG HOLY BULL HOPEFULS
WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc.’s Prime Factor and Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Amount are scheduled to bring a combined total of two races of experience into Saturday’s $200,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Jumping from maiden special weight company into a graded-stakes may be a lot to ask of lightly raced 3-year-olds, but their trainer, Todd Pletcher, has a history of success with late-developing colts during the winter months at Gulfstream.
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The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, the first graded stakes for 3-year-olds on the Road to the Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n Dale at Xalapa Farm, will headline a 12-race program with five graded stakes worth $600,000 in purses.
“It’s kind of that time of year where you have to see where you are,” Pletcher said.
The 16-time Championship Meet training champion visited the Florida Derby winner’s circle with a pair of lightly raced 3-year-olds in 2014 and 2015. Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015) both won their career debuts at Gulfstream on Jan. 11, captured their second starts against more experienced and established 3-year-olds, and won the Florida Derby within 11 weeks.
Prime Factor debuted at Gulfstream Dec. 12 with a stunning 8 ¼-length victory, running six furlongs in 1:10.38 while drawing away powerfully after closely stalking the early pace.
“He was brilliant in his debut and has trained sharply since then. We kind of considered going into an allowance race but that never materialized,” said Pletcher, who has saddled the two winners of the Holy Bull, Algorithms (2012) and Audible (2018). “It’s always a big step to go from maiden race against winners, giving up experience, but he can hopefully overcome it.”
Defending two-time Championship Meet titlist Irad Ortiz Jr. has the return mount on the son of Quality Road, who was purchased for $900,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September sale.
Amount overcame bumping at the starts of his Dec. 26 debut, rallying from off the pace to score by 5 ¾ lengths, completing seven furlongs in 1:24.68 under Ortiz Jr.
“His debut was very professional. Again, we were limited in options,” said Pletcher, who has saddled five Florida Derby winners. “I think, ultimately, he’s a horse that will appreciate more distance,”
Luis Saez has the call aboard the son of Curlin, who was purchased at the 2020 OPS July 2-year-olds-in-training sale for $110,000.
Courtlandt Farms’ Greatest Honour brings four-race experience into the Holy Bull. The Shug McGaughey-trained son of Tapit finished a late-closing third in his first two starts at sprint distances before showing marked improvement when stretching out around two turns in his two most recent starts. He was beaten by a neck while finishing second behind Known Agenda at Aqueduct at 1 1/8 miles, before graduating Dec. 26 at Gulfstream. He overcame bumping at the start and some traffic on the first turn before closing to graduate by 1 ½ lengths.
The homebred colt schooled in the paddock and walking ring during the second race at Gulfstream Wednesday.
“I’m very pleased with what I saw today, very pleased. He’s developed a lot,” McGaughey said. “I was just sitting there thinking if, through the winter and spring, he keeps going in that direction, he’ll be good.”
Jose Ortiz has the mount aboard Greatest Honour.
Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Sittin On Go, who launched his career with a debut victory and an impressive score in the Iroquois (G3), will seek to improve on off-the-board finishes in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
“He’s ready for another big race,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s sitting on go. He’s had two good works. He’s ready. If he’s good enough, he’ll run big.”
Corey Lanerie has the mount aboard the son of Brody’s Cause.
Tarantino, who is a nose short of being undefeated in his three starts on turf, is slated to make his dirt debut in the Holy Bull. The son of Pioneerof the Nile broke his maiden at Del Mar before finishing second by a nose in the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. After being transferred to trainer Rodolphe Brissett, he captured a mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 11 at Gulfstream Park.
Edgard Zayas has the return call aboard Tarantino, who is owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC and partners.
Magic Stables LLC’s Papetu and John Fanelli and partners’ Awesome Gerry, who finished second and third in the Jan. 2 Mucho Macho Man; OMGA Investments LLC and Off the Hook LLC’s Jirafales, a 4 ¾-length debut winner at Gulfstream Park West; and Lea Farms LLC’s Willy Boi, who is undefeated in two starts against Florida-bred opposition at Gulfstream, round out the field.