Gulfstream Park: The GIII, $250,000 Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 10-4-2-1)
by Brian Nadeau
#1 Toledo (7-2): Juddmonte homebred brought a big reputation to his AOC here in December but was flat early and made little impact late when second behind the surprising Ete Indien, who he meets again today, so he’ll have to rebound to be a factor for Brown. Well-bred son of Into Mischief still has plenty of upside after just three starts and is bred to like this added turn, but up to this point he’s more hype than actual performance, though he has improved his figure in each start. Fans will point to a better pace scenario today, and there will be a hint of value in this corner, too, but at this stage of his career, nothing he’s done says he’s a winner here; underneath only.
#2 Uncork the Bottle (12-1): Longshot brings a 3-for-3 career mark but will certainly get tested for class, as this is a big step off a pair of SOC wins at Gulfstream Park West and Tampa Bay Downs. Son of Colonel John is another that is bred to like this trip, and we all know how good Joseph is around here, but this seems like a big reach; easy toss.
#3 Tiz the Law (3-5): The heavy favorite brought on immediate Funny Cide comparisons when he won the GI Champagne at Belmont Park in an absolute canter in October, but then he stubbed his toe a bit when a disappointing third in a sloppy renewal of Churchill Down’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club to end his 2yo season in November. New York-bred son of Constitution didn’t have a clean run of it at CD and should fare better here with this inside draw and his tactical speed, and it looks like Tagg has him ready to roll off those early morning drills. Sure, this is just the start of what the Sackatoga boys hope is a Kentucky Derby-winning campaign, so he’s eligible to be a bit short, but even 80% of his best is supposed to beat this modest group; too tough for these.
#4 Ete Indien (6-1): Dangerous speedster made the front and forgot to stop when wiring Toledo in what was his dirt debut, and he ran fast in doing it, too, so it looks like he’ll be the one to catch here, especially with the short finish line in play. Summer Front colt might be coming to hand for Biancone, and if you judge him solely off that dirt run, he’s a big threat here, but an added turn and a bit more ground, and the fact there’s some other pace in here too, say he’s going to have to run that much better to double up; tread lightly here.
#5 Clear Destination (20-1): Longshot brings plenty of sprint speed to the party, and with Lopez named, expect him to be winging early, which won’t help the chances of ‘Indien directly to his inside. Son of Seek Again has never been past 7Fs and hasn’t run on the dirt since two poor outings to start his career, and this is his first start since November, so it looks like Brnjas is being awfully optimistic here; pace player, no more.
#6 Relentless Dancer (8-1): Yet another pace player, this son of Midshipman did well to draw outside the other speed, and he did rate a tad when romping in his last start to end his 2yo season in a Louisiana-bred stakes at Delta Downs in October. Maker charge has won off in both dirt starts and has the look of a wiseguy here, but this is a major step up in class, so until he proves he can play with a group like this, he’s best left alone; tabbing for down the road.
#7 Mayberry Deputy (15-1): Stalker looked good breaking his maiden here in December for McPeek while taking the typical path for a very patient barn, as he peaked in what was his third lifetime start. Son of Majesticperfection has a middle-distance pedigree that should be able to handle this trip, and the race flow should really be to his liking, as he can sit back a bit and let the others do the dirty work up front. At this point in his career, he’s looking up at the favorites, but his running style, breakthrough win last time, and square price all point to him as a major player in the lane here; not just for Barney Fife fans.
#3 Tiz the Law
#7 Mayberry Deputy
#6 Relentless Dancer