Gulfstream Park kicks off their series of three official qualifying races for the 2022 Kentucky Derby with the Grade 3, $250,000 dollar Holy Bull Stakes.
The nine 3-year-olds that drew into the field will have to go around two turns at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The top four finishers will earn qualifying points (10-4-2-1).
The Holy Bull is listed as race 11 on a card of 12 with a scheduled Post Time of 5:10. Here is a look at this year’s field.
1. GALT [ML 15-1] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. After debuting at Saratoga on the main track, GALT was switched to the turf at Belmont Park and both resulted in 6th-place finishes. He broke his Maiden by three lengths at Gulfstream on December 26th with a ground-saving trip racing around two turns.
2. MO DONEGAL [ML 5-2] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr. Pletcher sent him to Florida to prepare for the Holy Bull after Winning the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, earning the colt 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points after coming out on top in that tight stretch duel with ZANDON. Pletcher has been dominating the Gulfstream Championship meet.
3. ELOQUIST [ML 20-1] Trainer: Robert Reid, Jr. Jockey: Frank Pennington. This guy needed three tries to break his Maiden at Parx and then tried the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct where he broke last, raced wide, and finished a distant 5th. In his first start of this year, he was 6th in an Allowance at Gulfstream.
4. SIMPLIFICATION [ML 4-1] Trainer: Antonio Sano. Jockey: Javier Castellano. This Florida-bred broke his Maiden at his Gulfstream base by 16 lengths against other state-breds in October. Next out he was 3rd in an Allowance as the odds-on favorite. He then stretched out to a one-turn mile in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes which he Won on the lead by four lengths. This is his first start going two turns on the Derby trail. It appears he has a distinct advantage as the main early speed in the field.
5. CAJUN’S MAGIC [ML 8-1] Trainer: Michael Yates. Jockey: Jesus Rios. This Florida-bred has never finished worse than 2nd in his five career starts. The last four were at Gulfstream in restricted races which include a state-bred Maiden Win and then in the Florida Stallion Stakes where CAJUN’S MAGIC had a Win going six furlongs. His races increased in distance to seven furlongs and then a route around two turns.
6. TIZ THE BOMB [ML 6-1] Trainer: Kenny Mc Peek. Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr. TIZ THE BOMB will make his 2022 debut as he returns to racing on the dirt after running on the turf in three Stakes. He was outstanding on the grass with a pair of Wins in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile and then the Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland. He further impressed with a 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He began his career on the dirt in early May, in July, he broke his Maiden by 14 lengths on a sloppy track in a race that was moved off the turf at Ellis Park.
7. SPIN WHEEL [ML 20-1] Trainer: Rusty Arnold. Jockey: Julien Leparoux. This son of HARD SPUN broke his Maiden in his third attempt. He debuted on the turf at Saratoga and then was 4th at Keeneland in a race that was taken off turf and run on a fast track. His maiden-breaker came at Churchill in November where he rallied from last using a rail trip to get the Win by a nose. Clearly, he can handle the distance of the Holy Bull but the big jump in class is a concern.
8. WHITE ABARRIO [ML 6-1] Trainer: Saffie Joseph, Jr. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. Was an impressive Winner of his first two starts at Gulfstream last year with combined margins of almost 11 lengths. His Maiden Victory was followed by a front-end Allowance Win going the one-turn mile. In the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill he broke alertly, dropped back a bit, and rallied to get 3rd. Racing at his home base will certainly help but he will have to prove that he can handle two-turns.
9. GIANT GAME [ML 7-2] Trainer: Dale Romans. Jockey: Luis Saez. Makes his first start of 2022 after racing three times last year in a campaign that lasted only 48 days. He was 3rd in his debut at Churchill Downs in September and came right back to get his first Victory at Keeneland by three lengths after he stretched out to race around two turns. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), he ran a noteworthy 3rd. He has been training at Gulfstream and turned in three bullet workouts in January. He gets a positive rider change to Luis Saez.
SUMMARY: Todd Pletcher has dominated this championship meet at Gulfstream, hence #2 MO DONEGAL is likely to be a heavy favorite as the horse to beat in the Holy Bull. He is proven around two turns having already Won at nine furlongs in the Remsen.
#4 SIMPLIFICATION has done all of his racing at Gulfstream and Won the Mucho Macho Man by four-lengths, he’ll have an opportunity to get loose on the lead once again without any other true frontrunners in the field. That makes him a threat to Win.
#6 TIZ THE BOMB is a true wild card in the field as he moves back to the dirt to see if he belongs on the Kentucky Derby trail. If he can transfer the grass form that lead to a 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to the main track then he will be a Win contender also.
#9 GIANT GAME will be racing wide the entire way, but does possess tactical speed, and has been working out great at Gulfstream. Getting Saez in the irons will be beneficial as well. GIANT GAME should be ready for prime time.
THE PLAY: Both MO DONEGAL and SIMPLIFICATION will offer little Value in the Win spot.
So we’re going to use both GIANT GAME and TIZ THE BOMB on top of our Trifecta key.
The Ticket will be: 6-9 with 2-4-5-6-8-9. For a .50 cent Trifecta that play will cost $20. We’ll also do an Exacta Box with #6-8-9.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.