Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/3/14
This weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week takes us back to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. for the 2013 Holy Bull Stakes where newly crowned two year old colt champion Shanghai Bobby is scheduled to make his three year old debut and begin his march towards the 2013 Kentucky Derby. The Holy Bull, which is run over a distance of one mile and a sixteenth and is a Grade: 3 event, is a prep for the Florida Derby (which, in turn, is Florida’s biggest prep race for the Kentucky Derby) and carries a $400,000 purse. First run in 1990 as the “Preview Stakes”, it was a replacement for the Flamingo Stakes that ceased to exist following the closure of Hialeah Park. In 1996, the Preview Stakes was renamed in honor of Racing Hall of Famer Holy Bull. Unbeaten in his four races as a two-year-old at age three, Holy Bull won eight out of ten starts, five of which were Grade 1’s. He scored in the Hutcheson Stakes, Florida Derby, and the Blue Grass Stakes. Holy Bull was the favorite in the 1994 Kentucky Derby but wound up 12th after what I believe was he didn’t like the (sometimes) quirky Churchill Downs surface. Following the Derby, his connections chose to rest the gray colt and bypass the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. When he came back to the races in the fall, Holy Bull dominated. He defeated older horses Cherokee Run, Devil His Due and Colonial Affair in the Metropolitan Handicap. His victory in the Metropolitan marked the beginning of a six-race winning streak that included the Dwyer Stakes, Haskell Invitational Handicap, Travers Stakes, and Woodward Stakes (which he won by five lengths). Holy Bull ended the 1994 racing season as champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year. As a four-year-old, Holy Bull won his first race (Olympic Handicap) easily but was injured (front leg) and pulled up during the running of the Donn Handicap. He was immediately retired and sold to Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. On a personal note, I went to Darley and saw the now almost pure white horse about three or four years ago and he was still (as some 25 years old) romping and playing in his paddock. It was quite a sight… Two races before the Holy Bull is a race with Kentucky Oaks implications. The eighth race on Saturday’s Gulfstream card is the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes. The race, which is run at seven furlongs, pits My Happy Face, who broke her maiden by 21 lengths before running step for step with the top flight filly Dreaming of Julia in her very next race, vs. Kauai Kate, who bounced back big time in her 3-year-old debut with an eight-length victory in the Grade 3 Old Hat going six furlongs on New Year’s Day after disappointing in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies race in November. “We have a lot of respect for My Happy Face,” Kauai Kate’s trainer Todd Pletcher said. “She ran Dreaming of Julia to a tough decision during the fall, so this won’t be an easy race. But she’s doing well and should run well again.” Pletcher said it has been pretty much decided that Kauai Katie be confined  to sprint races this season. “It looks like we’ll keep her at one turn, which is why the plan was to run her in the Old Hat and Forward Gal because there isn’t much sprinting for her after this race,” Pletcher added. “The idea is to freshen her up after Saturday and point for races like the Prioress and Test as our main summer goals.”   GulfstreamPark – Saturday, January 26, 2013 Race 10 – 5:05 PM     Holy Bull Stakes (Grade: 3) Purse $400,000 One And One Sixteenth Miles. P# PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1 Shanghai Bobby 3/C L R Napravnik 122 T A Pletcher 4/5 2 2 Frac Daddy 3/C L D Cohen 116 K G McPeek 8/1 3 3 Clearly Now 3/C L L Saez 116 B A Lynch 12/1 4 4 Bern Identity 3/C L P Lopez 122 K J Breen 4/1 5 5 Sr. Quisqueyano 3/C L J Rosario 120 L Olivares 20/1 6 6 Dewey Square 3/C L C J Lanerie 116 D L Romans 12/1 7 7 Itsmyluckyday 3/C L E Trujillo 120 E Plesa, Jr. 6/1 8 8 Tulira Castle 3/C L J Castellano 116 J P DiVito 30/1 9 9 Fredericksburg 3/C L J R Velazquez 116 M R Matz 30/1 10 10 Joshua’s Comprise 3/C L K Desormeaux 116 B R Rose 50/1 Analysis: 1) Shanghai Bobby- undefeated champion two year old colt returns in this spot as the first in (probably) two prep races before the Kentucky Derby. When we last saw this almost black colt he was running his guts out in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. In the stretch of that race, albeit clearly tiring, he fought on game to preserve the win by just a neck in front of He’s Had Enough in nothing short of a courageous effort. So, you have to respect the speed, the 5 for 5 record and the determination with this colt. That being said, remember …the object of the game is to get him in peak form by the first Saturday in May, not the end of January. His recent works (Jan 20- 5F-1:00.4 and Jan. 13-5F- 1:01.2) tells me he is not “fully cranked up” and perhaps rightfully so. This, in turn, makes him a vulnerable (heavy) favorite in this spot even after I listened to trainer Todd Pletcher’s statement: “This is a very competitive field for the first race of the year, but the horse is doing very well, training well, we’re happy with him,” said Pletcher, “Right now, Plan A is to run twice before the Kentucky Derby, this race and the Florida Derby. He seems to run well fresh, and it’s kind of the program he had last year. He’s undefeated so we’re not looking to change a whole lot.” Nice colt, and trust me, I’m not knocking him. I’m picking him to win I’m just saying I wont be completely shocked should they beat him.     2) Bern Identity- was beaten fair and square by the top pick back in September (the Grade: 1 Hopeful Stakes), but this bay colt Bernstein (Storm Cat) has bounced back very well in his two subsequent races. On Oct 20, he came from behind to cruise under the wire three lengths ahead in a $200,000 Stakes race, then closed from 9th to 2nd (and was still “gaining” at the end) in the (Nov 17) Delta Downs Jackpot Million behind the talented Goldencents. Works are steady and fast, like the come from behind running style and the (never off the board in his career) record of 6 starts 3 wins, 2 seconds and a third. “He’s training as well as I’ve ever seen him train right now, the distance should suit him, and I’m eagerly anticipating seeing him run two turns over a real two-turn track,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “If for some reason the champ is really a champ and I can’t beat him, maybe I’ll go a different route with my horse next time. But the timing is right, my horse is doing great, and this race will certainly give me a line where we’re at right now.”     3) Frac Daddy – caught a wet track in his debut (finishing second) before annihilating a field of maidens in his second career race. He followed that up with a game second in the Kentucky Jockey Club where he was beaten a neck but battled the winner the entire length of the stretch. “At some point, we have to see how he fits with this kind down here,” trainer Kenneth McPeek said. “My horse is doing well, and this should give us an idea whether we should stay here at Gulfstream or need to zip away from some of these others. How good is Shanghai Bobby? He’s fast, plain fast, but we need to line up and find out. Somebody’s got to fight the champion.”   Record: 2013: 2-3= 67% 2012: 24-74= 32% To receive an email each time a new Horse Racing article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form   Little Bets N’ Pieces:   **** 2012 Horse of the Year finalist Fort Larned breezed a half-mile in 48 2/5 last Friday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center, his first recorded workout since his win in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trainer Ian Wilkes said that Fort Larned is to start the season in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap at one mile March 9.   2012 Breeders Cup Classic winner Fort Larned is aiming for a March return.    **** 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can took a step toward her 4-year-old racing debut last Friday (as well) when she breezed five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Fair Grounds Race Course. Trainer Larry Jones is pointing her toward a start in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes Feb. 2 at Fair Grounds. “I was pleased with the work because it was easy for her to do,” said Jones. ”That’s just the way she is. Actually, I had to back off on her for a while there (the filly hadn’t worked previously since Dec. 21) because she was coming around too quickly for this race we have planned for her. Now, we’ll probably give her one more blowout and that will be it before the Tiffany Lass.” 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Can You Believe is also getting close to returning to the races. **** Renee’s Titan came up the rail and upset 1-5 betting favorite and newly crowned two year old filly champion Beholder in the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes this past Monday at Santa Anita. Beholder, who laid off a hot early pace, commenced in a stretch battle with a resilient Dawn’s Choice, while Renee’s Titan rallied along the rail; a move she would continue even after jockey Tyler Baze lost the whip in upper stretch and was able to open a three-quarters of a length advantage at the wire. “I just sat on her and was as patient as I could be,” Baze said. “I didn’t care how far back we were but by the 3/16ths pole I knew it was time to get going. I skimmed the rail there, lost my stick, but she was running so I just did whatever I could to keep her going.” Renee’s Titan completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16 flat and paid an eye popping $43.80 to win, $7.80 to place, and $4.20 to show. Beholder edged Dawn’s Choice by a nose for second, returning $2.20, $2.10, and Dawn’s Choice returned $3.20 to show. Richard Mandella, trainer of Beholder, said it appeared his filly “tired a bit in the stretch” and plans to enter her to the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes March 2 at Santa Anita.   **** 2012 Champion female sprinter Groupie Doll will be turned out with plans for  a fall racing campaign after trainer William “Buff” Bradley thought she appeared to be “off her game” in recent weeks at Gulfstream Park. A recent veterinary exam of Groupie Doll found no injury or illness, but Bradley doesn’t like what he sees in the mornings on the (Gulfstream Park) track.   “I told them that I can’t find anything but I just know her…. And I know that she’s not going the way I want her to go,” Bradley said. “The vet couldn’t find anything; we don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with her. But we definitely want to give her some time and check her out; just kind of keep an eye on her.” Bradley plans to keep a close eye on Groupie Doll at Gulfstream for the next week or so. After that, she will be shipped to the Bradley family’s Indian Ridge Farm. “We’re not going to jeopardize her in any way by making her race,” Bradley went on to say. “She’s worth good money in the breeding shed. But at the same time, we’re all in it to race. We’re excited about her. Everybody’s good with this decision to give her more time. It’s worked for our other horses, such as Brass Hat.” After Groupie Doll won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (on Nov. 3) at Santa Anita Park, she then finished second just a nose behind Stay Thirsty against males in the Cigar Mile Handicap Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. She was shipped to GulfstreamPark Dec. 29 with tentative plans to begin her 2013 season there.  But after her arrival this, a blood test indicated illness and she missed several days of training. More recent blood tests have indicated she has returned to good health and Bradley said she is healthy, noting that her legs are “cold and tight”. Bradley believes some time off would be best for his champion.  He plans to wait a week or so before shipping her to Kentucky and (on nice days) she’ll be turned out in the paddock with the  retired grade: 1 winning gelding Brass Hat. “We’re just going to leave her (turned) out for a bit and hopefully bring her back for the fall campaign. That’s what we’re going to look forward to now,” Bradley said. “One thing my dad has always said is that time takes care of most [horse problems] if you do it the right way. So we’re going to go with that—just give her a bit of time. We’re not rushed for anything.” Like me, 2012 Female Sprint Champion Groupie Doll needs a long vacation **** Eclipse Champion and multiple Grade 1 Stakes winner Blind Luck delivered her first foal, by Bernardini,  last Saturday and 12:01 pm EST reported Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms.  The foal, a filly, weighed in at 118 lbs and is quite the looker.   Champion Blind Luck with her new born Bernardini filly by her side.   **** Ron the Greek turned the tables on Mucho Macho Man in last weekend’s $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park as he blew away his rivals by 11 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track. Last year, Mucho Macho Man defeated Ron The Greek by 1 1/2 lengths in the same 1 1/8-mile event, but this year’s running belonged to Ron the Greek as Mucho Macho Man gave way heading into the far turn and was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Mike Smith. Approaching the far turn with Fort Loudon in front after six furlongs in 1:11, Ron the Greek cruised past the field while looping to the outside as the field straightened away for the stretch drive. He got the mile in 1:36 and coasted to the finish line in hand in 1:49. “(The race) It was a good setup; he was a little closer (to the pace) than he normally is,” trainer Bill Mott. “We had asked (jockey JJ) Lezcano, if he could, to try to be a little closer. I didn’t expect him to be that close. I thought he might ride him away from there a little bit and the closest he’d be was 12 lengths. I guess they headed down the backside and he’s five, six lengths off the lead.” “It looked like he was in the bridle and running well. He put him in a drive and he shook loose, and the rest is history,” Mott said. According to Mott, the victory by Ron the Greek sets him up perfectly for a defense of his Santa Anita Handicap title (Santa Anita Park on March 2.) “We’re looking ahead and maybe try to repeat what we did last year, maybe go back to California for the Santa Anita Handicap and try to do that over again,” Mott said.  As far as Mucho Macho Man’s poor performance, “I can’t find anything wrong with him,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “I think he didn’t like the track.” Sorry, couldnt get the video to work corrctly, so here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pTYRWV3n_o

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