2019 Holy Bull Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
Maximus Mischief (left) and Mihos are two of the top contenders for Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes.
Maximus Mischief (left) and Mihos are two of the top contenders for Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire/Lauren King)

Gulfstream Park kicks off its three-race prep series for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday with the $350,000 Grade 2 Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile contest for 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown Trail. The Holy Bull is an important race in and of itself, and is also the lead-in to Gulfstream’s richer Derby preps, the $400,000, Grade 2 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2 and the $1 million, Grade 1 Xpressbet.com Florida Derby on March 30. Winners of the Holy Bull over the past quarter-century include 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, and last year’s Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Audible.

This year’s race has attracted a field of 10 Kentucky Derby hopefuls led by Remsen Stakes winner Maximus Mischief to south Florida, gunning for qualifying points that will be distributed 10-4-2-1 to the first four finishers. Learn about all of them below.


Garter and Tie
Leslie Martin/Coglianese photo

1. Garter and Tie (12-1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Ralph Nicks

Owner: Jacks or Better Farm

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $283,470

Earnings per start: $40,496

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Brooks ‘n Down – Garter Belt, by Anasheed

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Florida-bred should be the locals’ choice for the Holy Bull, as he’s made all seven of his career starts at Gulfstream Park and was one of the top 2-year-olds in training last summer and fall on the Florida-bred circuit, winning a stakes race restricted to horses sired by Florida stallions and then a stakes against open company in December. He also placed in two stakes restricted to runners by Florida sires. He enters off of a third-place finish behind Holy Bull opponents Mihos and Trophy Chaser in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 5, when he hit the gate at the start but made up some ground late to lose by 2 ½ lengths. This is a game racehorse whose pedigree is not nearly as flashy as his opponents and may have distance limitations but who also has a good stalking style for the Holy Bull, which features several speed horses. Jackson Bend, one of the best Florida-bred horses of this century and an earner of over $1.8 million, is a notable relative to this colt on his dam’s (mother’s) side.


Federal Case
Leslie Martin/Coglianese photo

2. Federal Case (6-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Robert and Lawana Low

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $64,200

Earnings per start: $32,100

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Gemologist – Delilahjane, by Elusive Quality

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt has a shot to win the Holy Bull if he continues the progress made in his first two starts, both victories. He debuted at Keeneland on Oct. 19 in a maiden race at about seven furlongs, and won by a half-length for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing. That partnership then sold Federal Case to Robert and Lawana Low for $650,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale. In his first start for the Lows, he won a one-turn mile race at Gulfstream by a neck, pressing the pace and then edging past the front-runner in the final strides. He’ll be stretching out to two turns for the first time on Saturday, but has shown determination and a willingness to race in close contact with an opponent in both of his starts. Federal Case’s young sire (father) Gemologist won the Wood Memorial Stakes during his racing career, and this colt counts Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Very Subtle and Grade 1-winning filly Pool Land among his relatives on his dam’s (mother’s) side of the family. Todd Pletcher has trained two Holy Bull winners, both ridden by Javier Castellano: Algorithms in 2012 and Audible last year.


3. Epic Dreamer (15-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Kelly Breen

Owner: Epic Racing

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $56,250

Earnings per start: $18,750

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 89

Pedigree: Orb – Dixie Crisp, by Dixieland Band

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of 2013 Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby winner Orb enters the Holy Bull off of a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park on Dec. 16. He shipped to Oklahoma from New York for that Kentucky Derby points race and went off as the 6-5 favorite, but was never really involved and finished sixth. Prior to that, he ran well in two starts at Belmont Park, finishing second to eventual Nashua Stakes winner Vekoma in his debut back in September and then leading start to finish in a 2 ½-length victory going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park in late October. He has been working steadily for Kelly Breen at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is eligible to rebound in the Holy Bull, where he figures to sit just off of the early pace through the backstretch before making his move.


Everfast
Coady Photography

4. Everfast (30-1)

Jockey: Chris Landeros

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $42,685

Earnings per start: $7,114

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Pedigree: Take Charge Indy – Awesome Surprise, by Awesome Again

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt figures to be a longshot on Saturday, as he enters the Holy Bull on a five-race losing streak dating back to September. He reached the winner’s circle in his very first start, taking a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park by a neck in August, and then was elevated immediately to graded stakes company in his next two starts at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, where he was defeated by a combined 18 ¼ lengths. More recently, he finished last of 14 in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November at Churchill, and third and fourth in two allowance races. All of his races aside from his debut win have been held around two turns, which is a plus, but he hasn’t shown the ability to compete against graded stakes-level horses and will need to make a big class leap to hit the board in the Holy Bull. His sire, Take Charge Indy, won the Florida Derby, and his dam is a full sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Wilko, who also finished second in the Dubai World Cup.


Harvey Wallbanger
Coady Photography

5. Harvey Wallbanger (15-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Ken McPeek

Owners: Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott Akman and Paul Braverman

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $91,200

Earnings per start: $22,800

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Congrats – Adorabell, by Distorted Humor

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Ken McPeek trainee has shown up for all four of his career starts heading into the Holy Bull, finishing second three straight times before breaking through in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 to win by a half-length. His speed figures are light compared to several opponents in Saturday’s race, but he has raced at the Holy Bull’s distance of 1 1/16 miles in three consecutive starts and has kept good company in his young career, losing to eventual Champagne Stakes winner Complexity in his Saratoga debut and yielding by a nose to subsequent Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up Plus Que Parfait in his second start at Keeneland. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. retains the mount on this horse after piloting him to his maiden win. On the negative side, his sire Congrats has had most of his success with offspring who are sprinters and milers, and his dam’s family slants toward sprint-distance horses as well.


Mihos
Lauren King/Coglianese photo

6. Mihos (5-2)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens

Owner: Centennial Farms

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $108,880

Earnings per start: $36,293

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 105

Pedigree: Cairo Prince – Feline Flatline, by Lion Heart

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Jimmy Jerkens-trained colt possesses the highest Equibase Speed Figure in the Holy Bull field, a 105 earned in his most recent start. On Jan. 5, he stalked the early pace and rallied strongly to win the one-turn mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream by a neck (Holy Bull foe Garter and Tie finished third). He shipped in from New York for the Mucho Macho Man after two starts at six furlongs: a third in his career debut behind eventual Nashua Stakes winner Vekoma, followed by an eye-catching 1 ¼-length score on Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. This colt is from the first crop of promising young stallion and 2014 Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince, and has shown the ability to rate in his young career, which should help him in this year’s renewal. Furthermore, few jockeys are better than Hall of Famer John Velazquez in judging pace and picking the right time to make a winning move. Velazquez has one Holy Bull win on his résumé, earned in 1997.


Come On Gerry
Lauren King/Coglianese photo

7. Come On Gerry (20-1)

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $24,325

Earnings per start: $12,163

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Elusive Quality – Halo’s Verse, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The second of two Dale Romans-trained horses in the Holy Bull has recent experience over Gulfstream’s main track and at this distance, winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on Dec. 28 by 2 ¼ lengths. That was only his second career start, following a well-beaten seventh-place finish in a seven-furlong maiden at Churchill Downs in November. He’s posted some sharp workouts at Gulfstream since his victory and figures to be part of the early pace as he won on the front end in December after pressing the pace and fading in his career debut. He has a good distance pedigree on his dam’s side, as he is a half-brother (same dam, different sire) to stakes winner Inflexibility, a Woodbine turf course record setter at 1 ¼ miles. His second dam (maternal grandmother) is a full-sister (same dam and sire) to three graded stakes winners, including Hall of Famer Ashado.


Maximus Mischief
Viola Jasko/NYRA

8. Maximus Mischief (1-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Robert Reid Jr.

Owners: Cash is King and LC Racing

Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $192,100

Earnings per start: $64,033

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Reina Maria, by Songandaprayer

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The even-monty morning-line favorite in the Holy Bull has been training at Gulfstream Park since shipping in from New York, where he answered a lot of questions about his ability against top-notch competition in the Dec. 1 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. In that 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 stakes, he soundly defeated six opponents in a gate-to-wire 2 ¼-length victory, earning a 104 Equibase Speed Figure. He had won his first two starts at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania in front-running fashion as well, but those were at sprint distances and against lesser opponents. Now, after his Remsen win, he looms as the speed of the speed in the Holy Bull Stakes, and will actually be cutting back in distance to 1 1/16 miles. There are several other pace horses entered in the Holy Bull, which should ensure he doesn’t get loose on the lead, but right now this son of prominent sire Into Mischief appears to be ahead of his opponents in terms of development and will be tough to beat. Jockey Jose Ortiz will be riding Maximus Mischief for the first time; he won the 2015 Holy Bull aboard Upstart.


Gladiator King
SV Photography

9. Gladiator King (30-1)

Jockey: Carlos Montalvo

Trainer: Jaime Mejia

Owner: Thoroughbred Champions Training Center

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $93,800

Earnings per start: $11,725

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Pedigree: Curlin – Golden Dawn, by Hennessy

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Florida-based colt has flashed talent in sprint races but has been an absolute non-factor in his two starts at a mile or longer, which should make him a longshot in the Holy Bull. He got into gear at Gulfstream Park West last fall, winning two races at five furlongs on turf, but then was sent to New York for the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes won by Maximus Mischief, where he finished sixth of seven, defeated by 34 ¼ lengths. Then, he returned to Florida and impressively won a six-furlong stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by three lengths on a sloppy track, only to struggle once again going longer, finishing last of six in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream, 20 ½ lengths behind Mihos. In his most recent start, Gladiator King finished last of five in the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay, although he did have an excuse as he broke through the gate before the start. He’s by a very good stamina sire in Curlin, but his dam’s family is speed-oriented. Based on his past performances, he needs to secure and maintain the lead in order to have a chance at winning, and there is too much speed – and class – lined up against him in the Holy Bull for that scenario to happen.


10. Going for Gold (30-1)

Jockey: Albin Jimenez

Trainer: Bob Hess Jr.

Owner: Ron Paolucci Racing

Career record: 2 starts – 0 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $16,800

Earnings per start: $8,400

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 90

Pedigree: Atreides – Smart Indeed, by Smart Strike

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Another probable longshot, this gelding is still a maiden and will be taking a big class hike in the Holy Bull. He ships in from Laurel Park, where he finished second in two consecutive sprint races, coughing up commanding leads in both. He debuted at 5 ½ furlongs and opened up a three-length lead before losing by a neck, and then raced at six furlongs and led by the same margin again, only to lose by a nose. On the plus side, his Equibase Speed Figures for both Laurel starts were decent, and he had a good first workout at Gulfstream on Jan. 25. But he’ll be facing far tougher opponents in the Holy Bull, led by a horse in Maximus Mischief that has already shown graded stakes-winning ability as a pacesetter. He is from the first crop of young stallion Atreides, who won four of five starts in an abbreviated racing career, including two impressive wins in one-mile stakes races at Gulfstream Park.

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