The road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby begins its Florida swing on Saturday with the $250,000 dollar, Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Inaugurated in 1990 as the Preview Stakes, the race was renamed in 1996 to honor the recently-retired 1994 Horse of the Year HOLY BULL, who captured the Florida Derby (G1) for one of his major stakes Wins at Gulfstream.
The Holy Bull is the first of three Gulfstream preps for the 149th Kentucky Derby on May 6th at Churchill Downs.
This race will be followed by the Fountain Of Youth Stakes on March 4th and the Florida Derby on April 1st.
The Holy Bull offers KD qualifying points to the top five finishers on a 20-8-6-4-2 basis.
Throughout it’s 30+ years, the conditions of the Holy Bull have shifted repeatedly; the distance has been changed seven times, and the purse has risen and fallen like the S & P 500.
But the element that has never changed? The Holy Bull’s status as a key prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Between 1991 and 2018, a span of 28 years, the Holy Bull produced 41 Kentucky Derby starters while coming up empty only twice.
GO FOR GIN (1994) and BARBARO ((2006) managed to sweep both the Holy Bull and the Kentucky Derby, while fan favorite FUNNY CIDE finished 5th in the Holy Bull before coming out on top the first Saturday in May.
The race was held over 1 1⁄16 miles from 1991 through 2004 and returned to its signature distance in 2013.
Quick times seem the norm in the Holy Bull, but no one has run faster than GO FOR GIN, who clocked 1 1⁄16 miles in 1:41.62.