Brian’s Derby Preps: The Holy Bull

He’s back! Brian Nadeau has returned to the Backstretch to offer his handicapping skills on key Derby preps. Other responsibilities will mean that he’s writing on fewer races this year, but you can get more of his insights at Horseplayer Now, where he handicaps and appears in live chats regularly.

So a hearty welcome back to Brian, and here’s his look at Sunday’s Holy Bull.

Gulfstream Park – The Grade III, $400,000 Holy Bull at 1-mile

#1 Gourmet Dinner (3-1): GIII Delta Jackpot winner gets back on the main after a decent fourth in the GI CashCall at Hollywood Park in December, and since adding blinkers two starts back, he’s been a different horse. Meets a pretty salty crew here but he drew well, should get some pace to run at and merits respect, though at this ML you’re not getting any value; seems capable.

#2 Major Gain (8-1): Polytrack specialist impressed in his first dirt try when finishing a close third in the GII Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, but that race was won by a maiden, so not too sure about the quality. Still, he could have done a lot worse in his initial foray on real dirt and he should only improve from there; eligible to be a factor at a nice price.

#3 Printing Press (12-1): Decent 3yo debut behind fellow rival Black N Beauty in a local allowance and now tests the big boys in his first attempt at a graded stakes. Thinking he’s got some talent but he might need a race or two at this level to show it; longshot.

#4 Black N Beauty (6-1): Aforementioned runner set a quick pace and drew off in his N1X score and considering that was his first start past 6 ½ furlongs, first start against winners and first start off the layoff, it was some pretty good work he did. Steps up today but there’s a very good chance he’s able to control the early splits once again and we already know he loves the course and distance; call to lead them every step of the way.

#5 Ribo Bobo (15-1): It seems like a long time ago that he was a good second to Astrology in the GIII Iroquois at Churchill, because in his two subsequent starts he hasn’t done much running. Azpurua forges on and the Iroquois was at a mile, but the positives end right there; not liking his chances.

#6 Leave Of Absence (10-1): Closed stoutly in the local 6-furlong Spectacular Bid and now stretches out, and with Harlan’s Holiday as his sire, he has the potential to move forward going longer. Also should show some tactical speed on the stretch and that means he’ll be in a good spot turning for home; adds to the depth of this talented field.

#7 Mucho Macho Man (5-2): Big run in Aqueduct’s two-turn GII Remsen behind Future Book hotshot To Honor And Serve to close out his 2yo season and now makes his 3yo debut with the hopes of continuing down the path to the Derby in May. He’s basically improved in every start and after finishing second to ‘Serve in his last pair, he might finally get his turn to shine, but it’s also worth noting that this is a one-turn race and only a starting point to bigger goals down the road; respect his talent but not interested in the short price.

#8 Sweet Ducky (8-1): Beaten pretty good by ‘Gourmet when fourth in the Jackpot and now makes his sophomore debut for the white-hot Breen. He’s 2-for-2 at the distance but note those Monmouth races were at two turns, so he might need a little more ground to show his best stuff; passing on this useful runner.

#9 Dialed In (6-1): Bet like a good thing for his CD debut and though he raced like he had no clue what he was doing, he was up late to get the job done at a tricky 6 ½ furlongs. Son of Horse of the Year Mineshaft is bred to get better with more distance and more ground and you get the feeling we haven’t seen anything close to his true potential; not expecting a win today but confident this is a colt that could be one of the ones come the first Saturday in May.


#4 Black N Beauty

#6 Leave Of Absence

#7 Mucho Macho Man

12 thoughts on “Brian’s Derby Preps: The Holy Bull

  1. Gourmet Dinner looks certain to be an underlay, though it needs to be remembered you had a very long delay before the Hollywood (Cash Call) Futurity thanks to the shoeing fiasco involving Comma To The Top, who took it all in stride and romped anyway (I’m hoping he wins the Triple Crown since his doing so likely would mean some changes to training techniques given he had 10 starts at two). It also needs to be remembered that Cash Call Futurity was the start of a period of excessive rain in Southern California that led to the final day’s program being canceled after two races and the new dirt track at Santa Anita really being messed up in the early going with over 14″ of rain in a little over a week (that we then got the Christmas blizzard from a week later).

  2. When Nick Kling says your dead Brian – he’s speaking from experience! The “Nick Off” horses are always the winners!

    I am leaning toward Leave of Absence as he has been training up a storm since last and with Rajiv begging Mr Violette to run him.

    Looks like a fantastic building block race with so many exciting prospects.

  3. Speaking of the Triple Crown prep races, I ran across, what I thought was, a very, very interesting article. It helps to explain why breeding and speed are important but, conditioning is too. When Tim Ritchey was sending Afleet Alex out on 1 1/2 to 2 mile gallops, twice a day, people may have thought that he was crazy. But, I believe it spoke volumes in terms of Alex being the best conditioned of athletes going into his Triple Crown races, and made his task a little easier to cope with.

  4. August, As a life long student of runners, I think Ritchey was on to something. His horse was very fit and tough but maybe he should have backed off the two a day workout routine as the Triple Crown approached. Maybe the lighter work load would have sharpened the colt.

    Just watched Dialed In win the Holy Bull. Very impressive.

  5. Bob, I strongly disagree. Ritchey training was terrific, in my opinion. Jeremy Rose cost Afleet Alex a win in the Kentucky Derby, and the Triple Crown, by continuing to whip and drive Alex, when he was in front by 3 in the Arkansas Derby.

    Oh, the lessons young jockeys learn!

  6. August, I remember hearing in interview with Ritchey where he said he did two a day right up until the Derby. After he lost I recall thinking he should have cut back{tapered] and maybe he would have won. I don’t remember Rose’s ride. The boy certainly did’t need to get after him in Arkansas.

  7. Nope, he didn’t and, don’t forget Alex was coming off a lung infection in his previous race, the Rebel Stakes. Ritchey, the class act that he is, never publicly commented on what everyone else knew, that the Arkansas Derby ride by the jockey might have compromised Alex’s chances in Kentucky. Even Rose would say after the Kentucky race that it was one of the few times that Alex didn’t pass a horse on the outside and he knew he was trying his hardest.

  8. Great comments one and all and I’m glad to be back and see so many people stopping by to say hi and contribute some great stuff. I really didn’t think Dialed In could get up going one-turn, nor did I think winning the GIII Holy Bull in Janaury was much of a goal…so to see him win like he did was pretty awesome and he’s clearly on the short list.

    Also take note of Neil Howard’s Machen, who looked sensational in the lane of his N1X at FG Sunday. They clearly wanted to teach him something so he was restrained early and he didn’t like, throwing his head, running with his mouth ajar…but he drafted up towards the leaders entering the far turn and split horses late then just exploded to win in a canter.

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