Gulfstream Park: The Grade II, $350,000 Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)
by Brian Nadeau
#1 Enticed (3-1): The chalk was an all-out winner over fellow rival Tiz Mischief when last seen in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club at this trip in November at Churchill Downs, which immediately vaulted him into several Derby top 10 lists, so he’ll have a lot of eyes on him in his 3yo bow. Now, to be fair, he sure didn’t break any stopwatches that day, and it seems like we see this type from McLaughlin and Godolphin every year, and more often than not, they struggle bridging the gap from 2 to 3. The good news is that this son of Medaglia d’Oro drew perfectly and will save all the ground, and he has plenty of tactical speed to get a dream trip in a field that isn’t all that speedy, though you’re not getting much value at this number; clearly capable, but no lock.
#2 Free Drop Billy (6-1): The first of four from Romans did some big things at 2, including winning the GI Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, then got exposed with a no-show ninth when last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November. Son of Union Rags was mighty fortunate last year, as he racked up a big bankroll and résumé while running painfully slow and beating a weak field at Kee, in what was more like a GIII field than a GI. The draw helps, he has won at two turns, and he’ll pass some, but on paper there’s no reason to think anything more than a minor award is his ceiling, unless he grew up several lengths in the offseason; not a fan.
#3 Master Manipulator (20-1): Longshot will likely be sent early, a strategy that netted him a maiden win in the slop over the track and distance last time, though this is a seismic step up in class for a colt that was beaten a football field in the GI Champagne at Belmont last fall, in his only other stakes start. The forecast is for clear skies, so that muddles this son of Tale of the Cat’s chances, though Guillot has never been one to duck a big spot with a horse that seems outgunned; in over his head today.
#4 Audible (6-1): The first part of an uncoupled entry from Pletcher gets the acid test today after beating up on some nobodies in the Empire State, and there’s no doubt this New York-bred son of Into Mischief will have to step up his game in what is his two-turn début today. The good news is that he’s streaking and obviously in expert hands, and this inside draw should ensure a good trip, too, especially since the splits seem on the slow side. He also fits on figures, too, so if you think he’s the real deal, then fire, as this will be the last time you get a number like this if he runs big; not the worst price play.
#5 Bandito (20-1): Romans’ third is by far the speediest, and while they all have different owners, you could see this Creative Cause colt being pushed hard early, especially since the lead appears there for the taking. The win in the slop at this trip at Keeneland last fall was decent, but he was beaten a furlong in the GII Remsen at Aqueduct when last seen in November, so there’s no reason to think he can make a dent here; easy toss.
#6 Hollywood Star (12-1): Stretch-runner and the third from Romans will reportedly scratch and await next Saturday’s GIII Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs (look for the preview here next Friday).
#7 Tiz Mischief (4-1): The fourth from Romans looms main danger to Enticed, after being beaten just a head in the Jockey Club to end his 2yo season, and he ran huge that day, as he spotted his rival several lengths, then weaved through runners to get into contention before having to do the same in midstretch. And that was also his first start against winners, so obviously this son of Into Mischief has a lot of quality to him and looks like the type who is only going to get better with maturity and added distance. Those works hint that he’s a bit more cranked than the normal debuting 3yo, though the pace, or lack thereof, could play against him, but even so, they’re going to know he’s in here; rock solid.
#8 Pony Up (8-1): Very intriguing newcomer from Pletcher has been doing the turf thing of late, and has been second in back-to-back local stakes the past two months, but he was a pressing runner-up over the track on debut in July, which ranks as his only dirt star to date. Son of Aikenite is bred for the dirt, though dad wasn’t a two-turn horse, but the fact that his dam is by A.P. Indy helps alleviate those concerns a bit. The other positive is that he figures to be forwardly placed today, which will get him first run on the big horse next door, and we all know the wonders his trainer can pull down this way, so with that in mind, the thinking is he’s firing a big, big shot; upset special.
#9 Tip Sheet (30-1): Deep closer was a well-beaten third in a very highly rated local optional-claimer last month and will really need to hurry to make a dent against a group like this. Homebred son of Brethren starts for a Gold barn that is having a very tough go of it at the meet, and things don’t figure to improve any today; get home safely.
#10 Aequor (15-1): Fellow longshot could shake out as the speed of the speed, as he stretches out past seven furlongs for the first time, and this wide draw means that he has to go early or risk being extremely wide into the first turn. As a son of Flatter, he is bred for this, and that second to Pixen (check out how he runs earlier on the card in the GIII Swale) in the local Limehouse last month shows that there’s some talent here, and Delgado did run second in the Florida Derby here a few years back with Majesto, but this colt probably isn’t adding to that resume; pace player.
#11 Mississippi (5-1): SCRATCHED to run in a local optional-claimer Sunday.
#8 Pony Up
#7 Tiz Mischief
#2 Free Drop Billy