The Grade 3, $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes is the first of three significant stakes races for newly turned 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park, the other two being the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Curlin Florida Derby. Eight are entered and although none have yet won a stakes race, one has come close as Legacy Isle crossed the wire first in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on New Years’ Day only to be disqualified to second for interference. Lord Miles closed fast late for third in the same race and hopes to improve, while Mr Bob and Il Miracolo, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, are trying to prove they belong in the top races for three-year-olds this winter. Cyclone Mischief won powerfully by nearly six lengths last month over the track at a shorter distance, having finished seventh in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes prior to that, and hopes to repeat that recent impressive effort. Rocket Can won an allowance race at the distance of the Holy Bull near the end of October before a runner-up finish in November and hopes to pick up where he left off last fall. Shadow Dragon and West Coast Cowboy both won their debuts in September but their subsequent and only starts since last fall resulted in poor efforts.
Main Win Contenders:
Rocket Can returns to the races after a bit over two months off, tied with Cyclone Mischief as having the most experience of any horse in the field around two-turns as both have run the distance of one mile and one-sixteenth twice. However, whereas Cyclone Mischief has a win and a seventh place finish, with his most recent effort at a mile around one-turn, Rocket Can could easily run well enough to win by repeating either of those previous two-turn efforts. The first was a win on October 30 by two lengths and in a field of 10. He earned a then career-best 89 Equibase Speed Figure for that effort, which except for the 101 figure Cyclone Mischief earned in his one-turn mile win last month, is the fastest race by any horse in the field. Then it gets better as Rocket Can earned a 97 figure in a strong allowance field of nine two-year-olds on November 26, missing by a half-length and gamely holding second by a neck. Now he returns as a more mature three year old and has four workouts in Florida this month as well as Junior Alvarado in the saddle. Trainer Bill Mott and Alvarado teamed up for two wins last Saturday including aboard Art Collector in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational presented by Baccarat. Interestingly enough Art Collector won that race after being off since October 1, and since Rocket Can returns from a layoff since November 26 there is no concern about his firing with a big race good enough to win this year’s Holy Bull Stakes.
Legacy Isle would be undefeated in three races if not for being disqualified out of winning the Mucho Macho Man Stakes last month and placed second. He has improved in each start, beginning with a wire-to-wire sprint win in September with a 70 figure, and then improving to an 80 figure in late November before an 82 figure effort last month. Although the win last month was earned leading from start to finish as in his debut, Legacy Isle proved versatile when relaxing in fifth before rallying to win in his second career start. Getting the services of red hot jockey Luis Saez, who has won 25% of the races he’s ridden in over the last 30 days, the son of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford has a decent shot to make his mark in the three year old division just by continuing his pattern of improving efforts and figures.
Lord Miles is the most lightly raced of the top trio of contenders in this field, but he may have the talent to leap frog them in terms of his efforts and figures to win. After a powerful nearly six length win in a six furlong sprint debut in November (with an 81 figure), Lord Miles stepped up in class right into the stakes ranks and stretched out to a mile for the Mucho Macho Man last month. He lagged back in eighth in the field of 11 in the early stages then began a rally from sixth on the turn and into the stretch before putting in a visually impressive late surge to end up third, beaten just a neck for second. Although the 80 figure earned wasn’t an improvement off his debut, Lord Miles did step up in class nicely and was competitive. Now he gets the ground saving rail as well as a change in jockey to Irad Ortiz Jr. and blinkers go on for the first time. Altogether, these changes can help him run even better, along with his breeding as he’s by Curlin so he should really appreciate the added distance. As such, Lord Miles can’t be ruled out as a top contender to win this race.
The rest of the field, all who have the ability to compete effectively in this race, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Cyclone Mischief (101), Il Miracolo (81), Mr Bob (81), Shadow Dragon (70) and West Coast Cowboy (72). Note that the 101 figure earned by Cyclone Mischief came after the addition of Lasix, which he will not be using in the Holy Bull, and the figures earned by Mr Bob and Shadow Dragon came from sprints at six to six and one-half furlongs.
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