Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Holy Bull

Gulfstream Park: The $350,000 GII Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)

by Brian Nadeau

#1 Garter and Tie (12-1): Working-class Florida-bred has used his stretch run to pick up some good checks in his career and will get a positive race flow today, too, as he hopes to build off that third-place finish to heavy-hitter Mihos in the local Mucho Macho Man last month. Son of obscure sire Brook’s Down was a distant second to stud Florida-bred Well Defined in his lone two-turn start and will save all the ground here for Nicks, who has been sending out several live runners over the past week. The race flow suits his style, and he has beaten open foes before, in the local Smooth Air two-back, so while a win seems out of reach, he should pass several in the lane; exotics appeal.

#2 Federal Case (6-1): Tricky read from Pletcher made it 2-for-2 when he won his first start for his new barn in a local optional-claimer in December after being purchased at the Keeneland November sale for a pricey 650k off a solid debut win at Keeneland for Brisset. Son of Gemologist is bred to handle his two-turn debut and goes for potent connections, but he’s likely going to meet a ton of pace pressure to his outside, which will really hurt his chances in the lane. Fans of this barn get a rare chance at their guy at a price with a potentially nice 3-year-old, but this seems like a big ask at this point; willing to make him prove it.

#3 Epic Dreamer (15-1): Son of Orb seemed to be going places for Breen after that sharp Belmont MSW win in his second start in October, then didn’t handle the hype when a heavily-favored sixth while trying two turns in the pricey Springboard Mile at Remington Park when last seen in December. Still, it’s good to see the barn forge on, and Irad lands here, too, and the works sure say he’s none the worse for wear, but he needs to show a lot more before making a dent in a spot like this; can’t endorse.

#4 Everfast (30-1): The first of a trio of huge longshots won on debut at Ellis Park in August but hasn’t done any running in three subsequent stakes starts for Romans, who really swings for the fences today. Son of Take Charge Indy stretched his legs for this in a local AOC last month but was a well-beaten fourth at 39-1, which gives you a good indication of his chances here; easy toss.

#5 Harvey Wallbanger (15-1): Kentucky invader finally got up in time to break his maiden at Churchill Downs when last seen in November, which built on a trio of second-place finishes to start his career for McPeek, who throws him right into the deep end of the pool for his return. Stretch-running son of Congrats is too slow on figures, and on the track, to run by the major contenders here, though he could pass a few if he’s developed from two to three; minor award appears his ceiling.

#6 Mihos (5-2): Aforementioned Mucho Macho Man winner was a late addition to the field, which is a positive sign, as Jerkens is usually the patient kind, so the fact that he’s here says he’s tearing the barn down. Cairo Prince colt has progressed according to plan and has the right stalking style to make a big dent, too, as he tries two turns for the first time, and, aside from the imposing favorite, there’s no one in here he’s supposed to be scared of. Of course, the favorite is the problem, as this colt hasn’t yet met anyone like him, so while he’ll make his presence felt, it’s tough to think it will be for top honors; second-best.

#7 Come On Gerry (20-1): Lightly-raced runner from Romans really improved in his second start, when he tested two turns for the first time and wired a track and distance MSW in December for the Albaughs, who do nothing but trot out talented 3yos seemingly every winter and spring. Son of Into Mischief is another testing deeper waters today, but it’s also the time of year to see just what you have, so it’s no real shock that he shows up in this spot, either. Expected pace player drew right in the middle of the speed, which won’t help his chances, so while he’s likely a name to remember, this probably isn’t the spot where he’s going to announce his presence; tabbing for down the road.

Maximus Mischief makes it three for three Aqueduct in the G2 Wood Memorial, José Ortiz up. NYRA/Chelsea Durand

#8 Maximus Mischief (1-1): Aforementioned imposing favorite made it 3-for-3 when he easily won Aqueduct’s GII Wood Memorial in November and kicks off his campaign at or near the top of list of would-be Kentucky Derby contenders. Versatile son of Into Mischief wired his first two starts against overmatched foes at Parx for Reid, then showed a hint of a rating gear in the slow-paced Wood, which bodes well here, as his connections likely don’t want him on the lead and may want to teach him to come from off the pace a bit (as an aside, tab what Wood third-place finisher Tax does in Aqueduct’s GIII Withers earlier in the day, and also see the race preview here, too). Obviously this is a starting off point to what they hope will be a mighty big campaign, so he could be a bit short, but those AM drills sure say he’s better than ever, and there’s something to be said for keeping an undefeated streak intact, not to mention that those in here just don’t stack up to this monster; way too good for these.

#9 Gladiator King (30-1): Huge longshot won the 6-furlong Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs three-back for Mejia, then was beaten the length of the stretch in both the Mucho Macho Man here and Pasco last time at Tampa, so there’s no reason to think this son of Curlin will do any running here; next.

#10 Going for Gold (30-1): The lone maiden appears to have some talent off his two Laurel Park runs, when he sped early then gave up big late leads going one-turn for former trainer Ham Smith. Hess wastes little time trying stakes and two turns, and with blinkers added today, this son of Atreides will be winging early, which will add fuel to the pace fire, but won’t help his chances; pops and stops again.



#8 Maximus Mischief

#6 Mihos

#1 Garter and Tie

#2 Federal Case

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